Thoughts on George Mikan
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It’s been 13 years since the passing of NBA pioneer George Mikan. Basketball’s first great center passed away just 17 days shy of his 81st birthday. So in honor of what would have been his 94th birthday today, I thought I would post some positive thoughts from former NBA players and coaches on the man responsible for goaltending in the NCAA, the 3-point line in the ABA and wider lanes and the shot clock in the NBA.
“When I think about George Mikan, I skip all the Wilt Chamberlains and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars and I call him the ‘The Original Big Man.’ Without George Mikan, there would be no up-and-unders, no jump hooks, and there would be no label of the big man.” — Kevin Garnett
“George Mikan truly revolutionized the game and was the NBA’s first true superstar. He had the ability to be a fierce competitor on the court and a gentle giant off the court. We may never see one man impact the game of basketball as he did, and represent it with such warmth and grace.” — NBA commissioner David Stern
“He obviously was the first of the real high-profile players. He literally carried the league. He gave us recognition and acceptance when we were at the bottom of the totem pole in professional sports. He transcended the game. People came to see him as much as they came to see the game.” — Hall of Fame guard Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics
“George was a giant among men in the early days of the NBA. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was the first player to really be an imposing and intimidating figure on the court.” — Hall of Fame coach and president of the Boston Celtics Arnold ‘Red’ Auerbach
“Frankly, without George Mikan, the Los Angeles Lakers would not be the organization we are today,” — Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss
“George Mikan was the model for all big men that followed him. He won five championships and would have won six consecutive championships had he not gotten hurt one year. He was truly a significant player from the standpoint that he was light years ahead of others from a size and fundamentals standpoint. A truly genuine human being as well as a great player. He made the game what it is today.” — Miami Heat president Pat Riley
“He was the first guy, I think, that they changed a lot of rules for. … He was special.” — Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown
Source: USA Today