In Memory

George McGinnis1950-2023Class of 2017


In a state where basketball is king, George McGinnis was royalty. The bruising power forward with a soft touch and friendly disposition helped put professional basketball in the Hoosier state back on the map. A gifted natural athlete, McGinnis looked like he was chiseled out of stone though he never spent time in the weight room. Big George won two ABA championships with the Indiana Pacers and earned six All-Star nods during his 11-year professional career.

George McGinnis passed away on December 14, 2023 after complications from a cardiac event. He was 73.

“George McGinnis was a transformative player during a transformative era,” said John Doleva, President & CEO of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. “The ABA continues to capture the imagination of basketball fans nearly 50 years after the league merged with the NBA, and George is a big reason behind that. We are keeping the entire McGinnis family in our hearts today and throughout the holiday season.” 

Born on August 12, 1950 in Harpersville, Alabama, George McGinnis moved with his family north to Indianapolis in search of a better life. He fell in love with basketball and won an undefeated state championship in 1969 at George Washington High School. He was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball for his efforts. McGinnis then enrolled at Indiana University where he played one season of varsity basketball at the tradition-rich school. He led the Big Ten in scoring (30.0ppg) and rebounding (14.7rpg) as a sophomore during the 1970-71 season to earn First Team Big Ten honors before embarking on his professional career.

As a rookie, McGinnis joined a stacked Pacers roster with guards Freddie Lewis and Rick Mount in the backcourt and Roger Brown and Mel Daniels up front. The Pacers won back-to-back ABA titles in 1972 and 1973. The second title run saw George rack up MVP-like numbers, including 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 steals per game. Most of those points came on hard, freight-train drives to the basket and pillow-soft jumpers he launched with one hand. McGinnis became the prototype for today’s highly-skilled, do-it-all power forward.

George McGinnis was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with the Class of 2017.