George Mikan

The marquee above Madison Square Garden that flashed "George Mikan vs. Knicks" aptly told the story of basketball's original superstar. The first dominant big man in professional basketball, George Mikan played with a competitive fire matched by few. Playing under Hall of Fame coach Ray Meyer at DePaul University, the 6-foot-10-inch Mikan along with fellow Hall of Famer Bob Kurland, swatted away so many shots that in 1944 the NCAA introduced a rule that prohibited goaltending. Unaffected by the rule change, Mikan led DePaul to the 1945 NIT title. Mikan enjoyed an extraordinary professional career, most notably winning six championships in three different leagues with the Minneapolis Lakers. A dominant offensive force, Mikan led three different leagues in scoring and set the standard for all future centers. Mikan was one of the first big men to run the floor and finish with force. He was voted the greatest player in the first half century by the Associated Press.