The Original center of Basketball, George Mikan was the greatest player in the early years of professional Basketball, representing the Minneapolis Lakers and the Chicago Gears with great distinction. He is regarded as the first true “Big Man” in the game, and is responsible for making basketball a game for tall guys.
Imagine an era without the three point line, and the small men ruling the roost with Big men considered too awkward to play the game. All this changed when George Mikan and his coach Ray Meyer joined hands together to form one of the greatest legacies in the sport.
Nicknamed Mr. Basketball, George Mikan was so dominant that it led to a number of rule changes in the NBA. His ability to score consistently from the low post led to the widening of the lane from 6 feet to 12 feet. Mikan worked very hard on his hook shots, able to shoot from either hand and with great accuracy. This led to the formation of the Mikan Drills used to train players today. Mikan was also responsible for the outlawing of the ‘goaltending’ rule, as he would repeatedly stand under the basket and swat away shots on their way down. And finally, the most famous on rule changes came after the merger. In a game against the Lakers, the Pistons were leading 19-18. Mindful of Mikan’s dominance, the Pistons passed the ball amongst themselves and dribbles out the time, ending the game at 19-18. The game was such a farce that 4 years later, the shot clock would be introduced to avoid any more embarrassing situations like these.
You know you have made it to the big time when the entire league has to readjust to your playing style and introduce new rules in order to make the game more even. Mikan would become the first player to cross 1,000 points in a season, the first to score 10,000 points and was the cornerstone for the first dynasty of the NBA. He is still regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game and a statue of him shooting his favorite hook-shot still stands erect outside the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Target Center.
Photo by chillihead