In 1949, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL) merged to form the National Basketball Association (NBA). The original NBA started with 17 teams and at the end of the first ever NBA regular and postseason, it was the Minneapolis Lakers, led by George Mikan, who stood atop the crowd, winning their first of 16 NBA Championships.
The Lakers amassed a 51-17 regular season record, good enough for best in the Central Division. They would defeat the Anderson Packers in the semi-finals before topping the Syracuse Nationals 4-2 in the 1950 NBA Finals, culminating in a 110-95 victory in the clinching Game 6 versus the Nationals.
Mikan is considered by most to be the NBA’s first true superstar in the NBA, and by some as one of the two greatest Lakers centers of all time, and he proved it during this first ever NBA season by averaging a league leading 27.4 points per game and also adding 2.9 assists. Rebounds were not a recorded statistic until the 1951-52 season but considering he never averaged less than 12.1 in seasons when they were recorded, it’s safe to say he collected his fair share of boards as well.
In the playoffs, Mikan would bump those numbers up to 31.3 points and 3.1 assists per game, proving that he could perform when the lights shined brightest.
These Lakers weren’t just a one man-show, however, as they got key contributions from Jim Pollard and Vern Mikkelson, who averaged 14.7 and 11.6 points respectively during the season.
This moment served as the beginning of the first dynasty in the history of the NBA (sorry Celtic fans) as the Lakers would go on to win the Finals from 1952-1954, giving them three of the first four NBA Championships. The rest, as they say, is history. The Lakers have gone on to become of the most iconic franchises in all of sports, and it was all started more than 50 years ago.
On this Thursday, Lakers Nation salutes George Mikan and the 1949-50 Minneapolis Lakers for becoming the first ever NBA Champions.
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