As we head into the next Los Angeles Lakers season, and a new era in Lakers basketball, the staff here at Lakers Nation has decided to take a look back and rank the 20 greatest Lakers of all-time.
The staff put together a list of the most significant figures in franchise history based on accolades, achievements and statistics. While there were many deserving candidates, the group was ultimately narrowed down to 20.
The rankings were determined by solely focusing on each individual’s accomplishments with the Lakers. Without further ado, here’s selection no. 13.
Seasons with Lakers: 7
Statistics: 23.1 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 40.4 FG%
Accolades: 5x BAA/NBA Champion (1949, 1950, 1952-54), 4x All-Star (1951-54), 6x 1st Team All-NBA/BAA (1949-54), 3x Scoring Champion (1949-51), Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (1959)
The Los Angeles Lakers are known for their legacy of dominant big men. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Wilt Chamberlain are among the greats, but the legacy all began when the franchise was still in Minneapolis with George Mikan.
Mikan was the NBA’s first superstar, and it started from the moment he joined the then-Minneapolis Lakers. Originally in the National Basketball League (NBL), Mikan led the entire league in scoring in his first season, leading the Lakers to a championship. When the Lakers moved to the Basketball Association of America (BAA), it was more of the same as he led the new league in scoring and the Lakers again captured the championship.
Eventually, the BAA and NBL merged to form the NBA that we know now and Mikan’s dominance continued. He averaged 27.4 points and led the Lakers to the first ever NBA Championship. The following season he again led the NBA in scoring and, in the first year rebounds were recorded, averaged 14.1 per game, good for second overall.
The Lakers would eventually become the first dynasty in basketball as they would win three consecutive championships from 1952 through 1954, giving Mikan five overall in his career. Mikan was so good that he also influenced a number of rule changes.
After the Fort Wayne Pistons caused the lowest scoring game in NBA history (19-18) by holding the ball and refusing to try and score due to fear of Mikan, the NBA would eventually adopt the 24-second shot clock. The NBA also widened the ‘paint’ area from six to 12 feet because of Mikan’s dominance on the block.
When Mikan retired for good in 1956 he was the leading scorer in the history of the NBA and the only player to have reached 10,000 career points. He was part of the Inaugural 1959 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class and was named the greatest player of the first half century by the Associated Press.
Mikan was a pioneer of the game and true legend and superstar of the NBA’s earliest days.
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