SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – John Kundla, enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, has passed away at the age of 101.
“John Kundla had unprecedented success as the head coach of the Minneapolis Lakers,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “He was a coach that took great pride preparing his team and was well-liked and respected among his many talented players. As a tremendous supporter for the Hall for many years, he was our oldest living Hall of Famer and he will be greatly missed by the Basketball Hall of Fame family.”
At the age of 31, John Kundla was named coach of the newly formed Minneapolis Lakers in 1948, a position he held until 1959. Even though he was just a few years older than some of his players, he was respected as a humble, quiet and disciplined leader with an even demeanor on the court. During his time in Minneapolis, Kundla coached six Hall of Famers – Elgin Baylor, Clyde Lovellette, Slater Martin, George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, and Jim Pollard. He was one of only three coaches in the history of the NBA to guide teams to three consecutive world championships. Even more impressive was the fact that Kundla sustained the Lakers championship play through three league changes, first from the NBL to the BAA and then during the merger of the NBL and the BAA to form the NBA. He also served at head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers from 1959-1968.
About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage.
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