The Mikan Era and the First Ever NBA Championship
When you want to take a closer look at an NBA team, no other team has the grand history and mystique as the Los Angeles Lakers. This team is not only known for their marquee players throughout the years, they are also known to be the winningest team in NBA history. It is quite difficult to start writing about the history of this team – where to start and what to highlight. Being that as it may, we start from the very beginning – that is before the NBA.
Needless to say, the winning tradition of the Lakers started even before the NBA. In the forties, prized center George Mikan landed a slot for the Minneapolis Lakers. The thing is, they were already a steady team without Mikan. They had Jim Pollard in the forward spot and they had shifty playmaker, Herm Schaefer in the point position. Because of this formidable combination in the backcourt and frontcourt, the team dominated the NBL as they lost only two games in the post season. As expected, Mikan dominated the league garnering 21.3 PPG (points per game). Thus thy came away with the NBL championship against the Rochester Royals.
It was in 1948 some NBL teams, including the Lakers, jumped to the BAA (Basketball Association of America). This gave the BAA the big names that they needed to attract spectators and a loyal live audience. Mikan was the center of attention because of his skill and height (6’10”). The BAA championship did not come easy for them this time. In the ’49 champioships, Mikan broke his wrist during game 4 of the contest against the Washington Capitols. So after grabbing three quick wins, they suffered two consecutive losses. However, Mikan was given the go signal to play with a cast on his hand in the next two games. With Mikan on the floor and the game played at home, the Lakers were able to trounce the Capitols in game six.
The 1949-51 season was a year to remember as the BAA and NBL merged, thus forming the National Basketball Association. George Mikan was still the dominant face of the NBA both on and off the court. With the help of Mikan, Pollard, and new acquisitions, Vern Mikkelsen and guards Slater Martin and Bud Grant, they went on to dominate the league. Suffice it to say, Mikan and his teammates were able to power the team past the Syracuse Nationals and grab hold of the first ever NBA championship title.
That was the glorious run of George MIkan and the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA. Though there are other superstars that will replace him in the team, the big giant has stamped his class all over the league and into the hearts of every basketball fan. Mikan held the torch and the winning tradition that the Lakers are holding on to so dearly up until this day. Before, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Shaquille O’neal, and Kobe Bryant – there was this gentle giant – a warrior with an indomitable spirit that dominated the game.