George Mikan

Who is George Mikan? An Intro to the Creator of the Mikan Drill

George Mikan is the creator of the Mikan Drill. But did you know he was the original superstar and OG dominant player of the NBA?

When you hear the term dominant, in terms of basketball, who do you think of? Probably Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, LeBron James, or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

But did you know that the first super-dominant player was a player by the name of George Mikan?

If you’re keeping it real, you’ve probably never heard of him before (though you’ve probably heard of the Mikan Drill). And it’s fine. He was a player from the late-40s and 50s after all.

And commentators don’t really throw his name around left and right as they do for some of the other superstars.

But despite the lack of recognition, Mikan was a beast of a player.

Who Is George Mikan?

In his 7-year career (from 1948-1956, around the same time as legend Wat Misaka) with the Minneapolis Lakers, he won 5 championship titles. He was also deemed the league’s MVP in his rookie season (1948).

Yup, I did not make a typo and you did read that correctly.

He was the Most Valuable Player as a first-year player. Not even Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan, who accomplished great things in their rookie campaigns, were close to being named the league’s MVP.

Mikan was that good of a power forward and basketball player.

And because he was owning everybody he went up against, the league had to change up the rules to make it more challenging for him.

What Rules Changed Because Of Him

Because Mikan, who was 6-10 and 245 pounds, was so big and strong compared to the other players at the time, he was able to take advantage of everyone who tried to defend him in the post (much like Shaq in the 90s and 2000s).

All he had to do was catch the ball, back down, and toss the ball into the basket.

So, in 1951, the NBA widened the key (or the free-throw lane) from 6 feet to 12 feet to make it more difficult for him to score. He couldn’t camp close to the basket anymore and had to extend his shot.

But being the pro that he was, he adapted to the new rules and obstacles and improved his skills.

On a side note, and this is a total tangent, the key was widened again in the future to put a brake on Wilt Chamberlain’s supremacy.

Another rule the NBA implemented because of Mikan’s dominance was adding a goaltending violation.

Mikan was one of the few players who were able to reach past the rim to block shots. But many of the times, he committed goaltends rather than denying a shot.

So, the NBA added the goaltending rule (where a shot can only be blocked as it is rising) to the rulebook to make the game fairer for the players he was denying.

Again, he adapted to the rule changes and continued to block shots.

Mikan was a great basketball player who was able to reform and adjust to the many challenges that he faced on the court.

He took them as opportunities to step up his game and to develop as a better player.

Final Thoughts

And this is the main lesson that you should take from his story –be fluid and flexible and like water (as Bruce Lee says), and keep adapting to the environment.

Once you do, you’ll be able to deke any obstacles that are placed in your way on the hardwood.


If you enjoyed reading this article, consider subscribing to my newsletter, where I talk more about the NBA history and present league stories.