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Published:October 3rd, 2011 22:05 EST
You will Never Guess Who 'Mr. Basketball' Really Is

You will Never Guess Who 'Mr. Basketball' Really Is

By Tom Ski

There is always one true pioneer for every sport.  For basketball, however, the name Michael Jordan is always spoken as the "best" - the man who showed the world that basketball was the greatest sport ever played. However, Michael Jordan is not the man who made basketball what it is today - it was the amazing George Mikan, who was actually referred to as Mr. Basketball his whole life.  George is the only pioneer of the game who played in the 40s and 50s as the most dominant, and "impossible-to-beat` center.   

Later on in Mikan`s career, Wilt Chamberlain was the name on everyone`s lips because he set so many records, like grabbing fifty-five rebounds in a single game and scoring 100 points in just one game. But Mikan was still the "best to the best,` even Wilt, himself, spoke about the fact that Mikan was the man that every basketball player wanted to be.     

Mikan played for many teams over his career, including the Chicago American Gears of the NBL, and the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBL; the Basketball Association of American (BAA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).  This was one amazing man who spread the wealth of his gift across the board.  In fact, the Mikan basketball uniforms that represent all of his teams are absolutely priceless - for no one will ever have the skill and talent that Mikan possessed.   

One of the most unique things about Mikan was that he had to play basketball with thick, round glasses on his face, simply because his eyesight was horrific. But standing at six-feet-ten inches, Mikan was certainly not going to called "four-eyes` by anyone, as he revolutionized the sport so that fans soon thought that only "big men` could play the game.  After all, the taller the player was, the more rebounding, shot blocking, and ability to shoot over the heads of smaller defenders would be greater.     

There was one other gift that only Mikan possessed, and many others have tried to duplicate or imitate it over the years.  That, was his ambidextrous hook shot, which literally scored so many points for his teams because no one could block it from the net.   

Mikan was beyond what fans of today would consider a successful basketball player. This man, during his career, won seven NBL, BAA and NBA championships, an All-Star MVP trophy, three scoring titles, and was a member of the first four NBA All-Star and the first six All-BAA and All-NBA Teams. Mikan was not only dominant on the court, he was also dominant in the changing and revising of rules that ran the basketball world.  Rule changes were made by the NBA because of Mikan - like widening the foul lane, and introducing the shot clock.  And he was so respected by the higher-ups that after his playing days were over, Mikan became one of the founding fathers of the ABA, serving as commissioner of that league, and forming the team - the Minnesota Timberwolves.   

Mikan became so dominant that the NBA had to change its rules of play in order to reduce his influence, such as widening the lane from six to twelve feet ( The Mikan Rule ). He also played a role in the introduction of the shot clock, and in the NCAA his dominating play around the basket led to the outlawing of defensive goaltending. Mikan set the stage for the Modern Age of the NBA dominated by tall, powerful players.   

As an official, Mikan was also directly responsible for the ABA three-point line, which was later adapted by the NBA, the multi-colored ABA ball - which is still called money ball " in the NBA All-Star Three Point Shootout.  Mikan was also FOR the other athletes.  He was the one man who stood up against the NBA and fought in a legal battle for years to increase the pension for players who had retired before the league became as lucrative as it became.   

Yes, of course, this man was inducted into the Naismith Memorial basketball Hall of Fame and the NAA Anniversary Teams, and elected as one of the absolute best fifty NBA players of all time. There is even a statue of Mikan shooting his trademark hook shot gracing the entrance of the Timberwolves Target Center.   

What most people are unaware of, however, is the fact that Mikan was once actually a Laker.  In 1949, the BAA and NBL merged to form the NBA, and this brand new league began the inaugural 1949-50 NBA season with seventeen teams, with the Lakers in the Central Division. Mikan continued to be the most dominant player, averaging twenty-eight points per game and three assists per game, and won yet another scoring title.      

This man has a legacy; a legacy that no one else will ever own.  No matter how many great players arrive on the courts in their uniforms, Mikan will ALWAYS be the pioneer of Modern Age basketball. He will always be the original center who scored eleven-thousand-seven-hundred and sixty-four points, and an average of 22.6 per game. He retired as the all-time leading scorer and averaged 13.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five-hundred-and-twenty NBL, BAA and NBA games.  He also led the league three times in personal fouls - so, yes - Mikan made sure to carry some negative awards as well "but it would never matter.  By winning all the accolades he won in the world of BAA, NBA, and an All-Star MVP trophy - this was the man who will never be forgotten.  With all the Michael Jordan`s, Dennis Rodman`s, even Wilt Chamberlain`s in the world - Mikan is the one who will always be remembered as the pioneer who brought the game of basketball to the masses.   

Mikan`s death was widely mourned by the basketball community, but was also responsible for bringing the media attention to fall upon the serious financial struggles of early-era NBA players. Many commentators went along with Mikan, agreeing that since the NBA had gotten so huge and was giving players million-dollar contracts, that they should ALSO be giving the "older` generation the larger pensions they deserved,  Shaquille O`Neal actually offered to pay for Mikan`s funeral, stating that:  Without uniform number 99, there is no me. "  That is the absolute best thing to say to each and every sports fan in the world.  The uniform number 99 was the ONE.  And without him, none of the world would have the stars they see nowadays. Mikan was the mover, shaker, player and believer; and every fan in the world should remember him forevermore!

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