Mr. Basketball: George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers, and the Birth of the NBA

Michael Schumacher, Author . Bloomsbury $24.95 (317p) ISBN 978-1-59691-213-7

Schumacher (Family Business ) explores the on-court life and legacy of George Mikan, the big man who revolutionized both college and professional basketball as a dominant center in the '40s and '50s and as the American Basketball Association's first commissioner in the 1960s. Several rules in the modern game were enacted to offset 6'10” Mikan's uncommon height advantage at the time: his shot-blocking ability for DePaul University led to the goaltending rule in college basketball in 1943, and his rebounding and scoring for the Minneapolis Lakers prompted the nascent NBA to widen the free-throw lane from six feet to 12 feet in 1951. Wilt Chamberlain described Mikan as the “first true superstar of the league,” and Shaquille O'Neal, who paid for Mikan's funeral when he died in 2005 in dire financial straits due to the expenses of his health problems, said, “Without George Mikan, there is no me.” A native of Joliet, Ill., Mikan was from a Croatian family and remained a true Midwesterner to the end, Schumacher writes. Schumacher's narrative sometimes gets bogged down with tedious, almost box score–like itemizing of the numerous games from Mikan's college and pro careers. Recounting these games in such specifics will be of interest to hardcore fans of the early pro game, but it does little to shed light on the man off the basketball court. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-59691-903-7
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-0-8166-5675-2
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