Even if being decades overdue, the Lakers announced on Wednesday they would be retiring George Mikan’s jersey on October 30 against the Denver Nuggets. Mikan led the franchise to five titles in the late 1940s and early 1950s in Minneapolis.
5x Champion, All-Star, MVP, and the man behind the Mikan Drill.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 21, 2022
On October 30th we celebrate Mr. Basketball. pic.twitter.com/ydUOggbOFQ
Mikan was one of the first true professional basketball stars in America. His dominance on the court was unparalleled at the time. In seven seasons with the Lakers, In every sense, Mikan is considered a pioneer of basketball.
Mikan averaged 23.1 points and 13.4 rebounds, though the latter stat wasn’t tracked in his first two seasons. He played seven seasons with the Lakers and won five titles in that span.
At his peak in the 1950 NBA Finals, Mikan averaged 32.2 points per game in a six-game series victory over the Syracuse Nationals and accounted for over 38% of the Lakers’ points in the series. For reference, in the 2022 NBA Finals, Steph Curry scored fewer than 30% of his team’s total points despite averaging 31.2 points per game.
His connection to Minnesota — Mikan ran for Congress in the state after his retirement — and the Lakers relocating to Los Angeles complicated matters when it came to his jersey retirement. Even then, it was a matter that was long overdue given his impact not just on the franchise but to the game of basketball as a whole during his career.
By appropriately recognizing and honoring Mikan, the Lakers close the book on one question that hung over the franchise for years. The long tradition of dominant big men playing in the purple and gold began with Mikan and not having his name and number in the rafters felt incomplete.
This is a move that was long overdue and one that Mikan has long deserved. The Lakers made the right call, even if it kept many years too late.