George Mikan a.k.a Mr. Basketball, who earned his nickname, literally defined the way the game is played and the game we play today.
Back in the days he was so dominant that some rules had to be changed like widening the foul lane and introducing the shot clock.
Also in “goaltending” he played a major factor. “Goaltending” is a term used to describe the point when you’re not allowed to block the shot once the ball reaches its apogee. In other words, touching the ball that could possible enter the basket is counted a made shot for the opposing team. That was allowed back then, because people assumed that no one could reach that high but they were wrong. Mr. Basketball could.
He was famous for his ability to block shots and score points with his ambidextrous sky hook. He could virtually use his hands equally good and that’s why the famous “Mikan Drill” is developed. The drill is very simple. You start from under the basket and make a layup with your left hand.
Then you rebound with your right hand and make a right handed lay up. Be aware that when you make a left handed rebound you should jump with your right leg and vica versa.
This drill has been practiced by so many famous basketball players like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq, he absolutely loved George Mikan and he decided to cut the expenses for the funeral.
But, let’s see what happened when he was growing up. I assume you’ll agree with me that, other than his body, his face really doesn’t typically look like an athlete. He had to wear thick glasses while playing because of his near-sightedness. George, as a matter of fact wanted to be a priest. No one could really say that he could play basketball.
It was common sense, back in those days, that tall players can’t really play basketball very well. Plus the fact that Mikan was clumsy and shy and didn’t want to show his talent. But it wasn’t until, a very sharp mind called Ray Meyer saw a great potential in George and he went on to transform him into very aggressive, dominant and confident player who could even make harsh fouls to his opponents.
Standing 6 foot 10, under the coaching of Meyer who made him jump rope and punch a speed bag, George Mikan became dominant among his peers in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).
Both, in 1945 and 1946, he was named NCAA College Player of the Year. In the NBL (National Basketball League), Mikan was elected Most Valuable Player after scoring 100 points in five games. In the NBL, playing for the Minneapolis Lakers, together with Jim Pollard and Vern Mikkelsen, they defined the very first strong and dominant frontline in professional basketball.
When the inaugural NBA season started, in 1949-1950, Mikan was still dominant averaging 27.4 points per game and grabbing another scoring title. The following season he was even better averaging 28.4 points per game. In 1952, they went to the finals against the New York Knicks and won the title in seven games.
In 1955 he decided to retire because of his desire to dedicate himself to the family and the fact that more and more injuries occurred (because he was taught to play through those injuries). One year later, he stunned to world by joining the Lakers again but due to his absence he wasn’t the same Mikan that the people knew and so, after 37 games played, he decided to put an end for good. In 2005, he died at the age of 80.