George Mikan

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Basketball player
George Mikan
George Mikan 1945.jpeg
Player information
Full name George Lawrence Mikan Jr.
Nickname Mr. basketball
birthday June 18, 1924
place of birth Joliet , Illinois , United States
date of death June 1, 2005
Place of death Scottsdale , Arizona , United States
size 208 cm
Weight 111 kg
position center
High school Joliet Catholic Academy, Illinois
college DePaul University
Jersey number 99
Clubs as active
1946-1947 United StatesUnited States Chicago American Gears ( NBL )
1947-1956 United StatesUnited States Minneapolis Lakers
Clubs as coaches
1957-1958 United StatesUnited States Minneapolis Lakers

George Lawrence Mikan Jr. (born June 18, 1924 in Joliet , Illinois , † June 1, 2005 in Scottsdale , Arizona ) was an American basketball player . At 2.08 meters, he was the first successful "Big Man" in basketball. Voted the Best Basketball Player of the First Half of the 20th Century, Mikan was named among the 50 Best NBA Players of All Time in 1996, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959 .


George Mikan was the son of Croatian parents who came from Vivodina near Karlovac and emigrated to the United States. He studied at DePaul University in Chicago and started playing basketball there. Mikan's height allowed him to catch thrown balls just before the basket, which is called “ goaltending ” in English . Mikan and Bob Kurland so dominated with this type of defense that the NCAA in 1944 declared the "goaltending" illegal.

Nevertheless, the dominance continued and in 1945 Mikan became champion with the DePaul University National Invitation Tournament . This title, which is still highly regarded today, made him known nationwide and a star. It was in 1944 and 1945 by the Sporting News in its All-American First Team selected.

The next year, Mikan signed his first professional contract with Chicago American Gears . With the gears, the center immediately became champion of the National Basketball League (NBL). After this extremely successful season, the owner of the Gears wanted to found his own league, the National Professional Basketball League .

Mikan in the jersey of the Chicago American Gears

The league broke up early and the rights to Mikan were attributed to the Minneapolis Lakers . With Mikan in the team, the league newcomer from Minneapolis won the World Professional Basketball Tournament in Chicago against the New York Renaissance and Mikan was selected as a center both for MVP and for the All-Tournament First Team, as in 1946 with the Chicago American Gears. In the league, the Lakers were champions and Mikan led the league on points and became Most Valuable Player.

The National Basketball League had its best season and then lost numerous franchises to the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in addition to the Lakers . Despite his short time in the NBL, Mikan was elected to the NBL's all-time team.

Also in the BAA and later in the NBA, Mikan continued his successful streak with the Lakers and was champion seven times in eight professional years. After the championship in 1954, Mikan ended his career.

In 1955/56 he started a comeback, but broke off this attempt himself in time to avoid damage to his image. To this day, his name is inextricably linked with this era of modern professional basketball. Shortly after the end of his career, he was voted the best basketball player of the first half of the 20th century . That choice was confirmed on the NBA's 50th anniversary when Mikan was voted one of the 50 best NBA players of all time .


Mikan tried himself in the 1957/58 season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, but resigned after a record of 9:30 wins and a win rate of 23.1% and was inherited by John Kundla in January 1958 . In 1967 Mikan became the first commissioner of the American Basketball Association (ABA). The idea with the blue-white-red balls goes back to him.

Awards and Achievements


Mikan's brother Ed also played in BAA and NBA from 1948 to 1954 . Son Larry played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1970/71 season .

See also


  • George Mikan and Bill Carlson: Mr. Basketball. George Mikan's own story . New York 1952. (engl.)
  • George Mikan and Joseph Oberle: Unstoppable. The Story of George Mikan, the First NBA Superstar . Indianapolis 1997. ISBN 1-57028-132-7 (English)

Web links

Commons : George Mikan  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Bijan C. Bayne: Elgin Baylor. The Man Who Changed Basketball. Lanham / Boulder / New York / London, 2015: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4422-4570-9 (page 178, in English).