Number 9 – George Mikan
Because of the lack of film footage of Mikan available for analysis, by virtue of it being the 1950s, we opted to review the rule changes that were put into force as a direct result of the All-Star big man’s influence.
Here is an excerpt from ‘The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: George Mikan‘:
Being the first ‘big man’ in the NBA, at 6-foot-10, Mikan had the coordination and skill to catch an opponents shot on its way down, even while playing in the NCAA for De Paul University. This resulted in the NCAA banning goal-tending in 1945.
Designed to slow Mikan down defensively, it only made him more dominant on the offensive side of the floor. Smartly so he adapted his game, perfecting his skyhook and making it a signature move as it was now unblockable once the shot reached its apex.
This rule, of course, is still required in today’s game, with players being much taller and more athletic, very much capable of taking a ball off the rim. Mikan was revolutionary in proving that players of his stature could play the game, in the 1940s/50s players of his size were considered too awkward to ever be able to play basketball at the level he did.
Paving the way for some of the greatest centers of all time, if Mikan wasn’t able to play at the NBA level, players like Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon would never be remembered as some of the greatest of all time. After Mikan’s death in 2005, O’Neal echoed this sentiment, saying “Without number 99 [Mikan], there is no me”.
To read on, make sure to go and check out the original article.
Mikan made his debut with the Lakers on the 4th of November 1948 against the Baltimore Bullets. He would go on to win a rebounding title, 3 scoring titles, 4 All-Star selections, 1 All-Star MVP, 5 All-NBA selections (1 All-BAA selection), 4 NBA Championships (1 BAA Championship), and an induction into to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
He never played in Los Angeles, but his name certainly deserves its place in the rafters of the Staples Center, among his fellow Laker greats.