Los Angeles Lakers: 50 Greatest Players in Lakers History (Updated 2023)

(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /
44 of 50
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 7- George Mikan

  • 7 seasons, 439 games, 5 titles
  • 23.1 PPG
  • 13.4 RPG

“Mikan the Magnificent” was the first NBA superstar. He was the league’s first dominant big man during its infancy in the early 1950’s, leading the Minneapolis Lakers to 5 titles in 6 years, including 3 straight from 1952-54.

He was also the league’s best player in those days, voted for 6 straight years to the All-League 1st Team and to the NBA’s first 4 all-star teams and would have been a multiple MVP winner if they had the award back then.

He led the league in scoring three times, averaging over 25 points per game in each of those seasons. Fouling him did the opponents little good as George shot a strong 78.6% from the free-throw line, where he mastered the underhanded shot.

At 6 foot 10 inches and 240 pounds, the bespectacled Mikan dwarfed most of his opponents and overpowered them in the paint. Because of his inside preeminence, the league widened the lane and established a goaltending rule.

Big George was known for his hook shot with which he was equally effective both right and left-handed. Nearly 70 years later, young big men are still taught the “Mikan drill”, shooting underneath the basket with either hand.

Surprisingly, his field goal percentage was poor by today’s standards as he shot only a tad over 40%. But it was a different era when shooters were not nearly as refined as they are today, and his percentage was respectable for the times.

His career was relatively short. He played just 6 years with Minneapolis, retired and then came back with them for one final season in 1955-56. Over the course of those 7 seasons, he ranks 5th on the Lakers in PPG, 11th in total points and 3rd in RPG (although rebounds were not officially maintained as a statistic for his first 2 years).

Mikan’s averages rose slightly in the postseason. Had there been a Finals MVP award in his time, it is likely he would have been a 5-time winner.