George Mikan

George Mikan
George Mikan 1945.jpeg
Mikan in 1945
Personal information
Born(1924-06-18)June 18, 1924
Joliet, Illinois
DiedJune 1, 2005(2005-06-01) (aged 80)
Scottsdale, Arizona
Listed height6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High schoolJoliet Catholic (Joliet, Illinois)
CollegeDePaul (1942–1946)
Playing career1946–1956
Career history
As player:
1946–1947Chicago American Gears
19471954, 1956Minneapolis Lakers
As coach:
1957–1958Minneapolis Lakers
Career highlights and awards
Career BAA/NBA statistics
Points11,764 (22.6 ppg) (NBL/BAA/NBA)
10,156 (23.1 ppg) (BAA/NBA)
Rebounds4,167 (13.4 rpg) (NBA last five seasons)
Assists1,245 (2.8 apg) (BAA/NBA)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

George Lawrence Mikan Jr. (June 18, 1924 – June 1, 2005), nicknamed Mr. Basketball, was an American professional basketball player for the Chicago American Gears of the National Basketball League (NBL) and the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBL, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Invariably playing with thick, round spectacles, the 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m), 245 pounds (111 kg) Mikan is seen as one of the pioneers of professional basketball, redefining it as a game of so-called big men with his prolific rebounding, shot blocking, and his talent to shoot over smaller defenders with his ambidextrous hook shot, the result of his namesake Mikan Drill.[1] He also utilized the underhanded free-throw shooting technique long before Rick Barry made it his signature shot.[2]

Mikan had a successful playing career, winning seven NBL, BAA, and NBA championships, an NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy, and three scoring titles. He was a member of the first four NBA All-Star games, and the first six All-BAA and All-NBA Teams. Mikan was so dominant that he caused several rule changes in the NBA: among them, the introduction of the goaltending rule, the widening of the foul lane—known as the "Mikan Rule"—and the creation of the shot clock.[3]

After his playing career, Mikan became one of the founders of the American Basketball Association (ABA), serving as commissioner of the league. He was also vital for the forming of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his later years, Mikan was involved in a long-standing legal battle against the NBA, fighting to increase the meager pensions for players who had retired before the league became lucrative. In 2005, Mikan died after a long battle with diabetes.[4]

For his accomplishments, Mikan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959, made the 25th and 35th NBA Anniversary Teams of 1970 and 1980, and was elected one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players ever in 1996. Since April 2001, a statue of Mikan shooting his trademark hook shot graces the entrance of the Timberwolves' Target Center.[3]

Early years

George Mikan was born in Joliet, Illinois, and was of Croatian descent. As a boy, he shattered one of his knees so badly that he was kept in bed for a year and a half. In 1938, Mikan attended the Chicago Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and originally wanted to be a priest, but then moved back home to finish at Joliet Catholic.[5] Mikan did not seem destined to become an athlete. When Mikan entered Chicago's DePaul University in 1942, he stood 6' 10", weighed 245 pounds, moved awkwardly because of his frame, and wore thick glasses for his near-sightedness.[6]

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