Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Nikola Jokić, Step Curry, and Joel Embiid have one thing in common; they are all superstars. But the first superstar of the NBA was George Mikan. Included in his impressive resume are winning NBA titles and personal awards.
How many rings did George Mikan have?
George Mikan wore six championship rings playing for the Minneapolis Lakers franchise and one with the Chicago American Gears. Under Mikan’s leadership, the Lakers dynasty was established as well as the first two 3-peats in NBA history, 1948-50 and 1952-54.
During his prime, everyone wanted to see him play. Find out why.
Who was George Mikan?
George Lawrence “Mr. Basketball” Mikan Jr. was born on June 18, 1924, to parents Joseph (Croatian) and Minnie (Slovenian) with three siblings; Joe, Ed, and Marie. Mikan stood 6″10″ (2.08 m) when he joined De Paul University in Chicago, he was clumsy with his movements and needed eyeglasses for his short-sightedness.
Fortunately, Mikan met Ray Meyer, the rookie coach of De Paul University, who worked out the Mikan Drill. Mikan was transformed into a complete athlete punishing opponents on defense and scoring at will with his hook shots.
He led De Paul to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) crown in 1945 and was named MVP.
Chicago American Gears (1946-1947)
After Mikan’s college stint (1945-1946), he signed for the Gears in the National Basketball League (NBL) and led the team to the 1947 NBL title.
Maurice White, the Gears owner, plucked the team from the NBL to form the Professional Basketball League of America before the NBL 1947-48 season started. After a month the league folded, and the players from the 24 teams were distributed to the 11 NBL clubs. By lottery, Mikan landed with the Minneapolis Lakers, known as the Los Angeles Lakers today, and the story of the championship dynasty begins.
Minneapolis Lakers (1947-1956)
Mikan’s basketball dominance led to a Lakers dynasty winning six titles bested by the Bill Russell-led Celtics team with 11 championships (1957, 1959-1966, 1968, 1969).
In his first year as a Laker, Mikan led the team to win the 1948 NBL championship and was voted the league’s MVP.
The next year, Minneapolis, along with three NBL teams jumped to the two-year-old Basketball Association of America (BAA). The Lakers won the 1949 BAA title against the Washington Capitols.
The BAA and NBL merged in 1949, and the NBA was born. In its inaugural season (1949-50), Mikan led the Lakers to a 51-17 record and stopped their opponents dead in their tracks to reach the finals. The Minneapolis Lakers defeated the Syracuse Nationals in six games to hoist the first NBA trophy.
In an odd game against the Fort Wayne Pistons in the 1950-51 season, the Pistons held on to a 19-18 edge until the end. With no shot clock to force players to shoot, the Pistons passed the ball to prevent Mikan from getting possession and scoring. The shot clock was created four years afterwards. Mikan was playing hurt with a fractured leg in the 1951 Western Division Finals. The injury impacted his game, and the Rochester Royals romped off with a 3-1 series win.
In the 1951-52 season, the Mikan Rule was enforced. This was the brainchild of coach Joe Lapchick of the New York Knicks to minimize Mikan’s presence in the shaded lane. But great players like Mikan see challenges as an opportunity to rise. He had a personal best of 61 points against the Rochester Royals and led the Lakers to a Game 7 win versus the New York Knicks for the 1952 NBA title.
The Lakers was back to the 1953 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks beating the Knicks again 4-1 to win the championship.
Another NBA title was on the line in 1954 with George Mikan leading the charge. It was an epic Game 7 face-off against the Syracuse Nationals and the win made the Lakers the first NBA team to accomplish two 3-peat championships.
The NBA battles took a heavy toll on Mikan’s body and at the end of the 1954 season, he retired. Without Mikan, the Lakers were a no-show in the 1955 NBA Finals.
Basketball runs in the blood of George Mikan, after recovering from injuries he returned to the Lakers lineup halfway through the 1955-56 season. His absence affected his game, Mikan’s production dipped and the Lakers were ousted in the first round of playoffs. At the end of the 1956 season, Mikan hung his jersey for good.
How Many Championship Rings Did George Mikan Have?
George Mikan was lanky and wore protective goggles, but don’t let his looks deceive you. Because Mikan was the greatest big man in the 50s and he won seven championship rings during his time.
|1947||Chicago American Gears||NBL|
George Mikan’s Notable NBA Awards
George Mikan was the face of the NBA during his prime. Fans would fill the stadium to watch a Goliath against the Davids with the big man shooting with his left or right hand with precision like a Swiss watch. Mikan’s superiority earned him numerous accolades and a place in the Top 50 Players in the NBA.
- NBL MVP (1948),
- NBL Scoring Champion (1948)
- NBA Scoring Champion (1949-51)
- Basketball’s Greatest Player of the Half Century (1950)
- NBA All-Star (1953)
- NBA Rebounding Leader (1953)
- Naismith Hall of Fame (1959)
What is the Mikan Rule?
George Mikan was a dominant player who scores at will, and the only way to stop him was to play dirty or a coach’s strategy designed for him, like Hack a Shaq. Another way to stop him permanently is by revising the rules to level the playing field. But this was temporary, smart players find opportunities in game situations.
The league revised the rules in 1951, called the Mikan Rule, in an attempt to contain the dominance of George Mikan. The width of the shaded lane was stretched from six feet to 12 feet. Players were allowed to stay in the paint for three seconds and the wider lane pushed Mikan further making it difficult for him to score.
Wrapping Things Up: How Many Rings Did George Mikan Have?
There were no other George Mikan teams. He played for only one team – the Minneapolis Lakers. His sheer dominance on the court made him a force off the court too. Mikan was on the cover of print media, an endorser of products from candies to beer, and he made regular TV appearances.