George Mikan, who won four championships in six NBA seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers (1949-54, '55-56), was one of the first dominant players in NBA history. He averaged 23.1 points and 9.5 rebounds in a Hall of Fame career, forever altering the perception that taller, less agile players were doomed to play complementary roles as they watched swingmen dominate the League. After his playing days, Mikan spent many years practicing corporate and real estate law. His astute observational skills and candor likely benefited him in that arena, and would have lent themselves naturally to the Internet phenomenon of the blog. By excerpting Mikan from various interviews, we've compiled a post he might have posted if blogging (and NBA.com) existed in the 1950s.
Greetings From Rochester
We've been on the road for only a day and it already feels like a long road trip. We had a game last night in Minneapolis, got on a midnight flyer to Chicago and then took a train from there to Rochester, New York. We got off the plane and played. It was a full day of travel.
Although, I can't complain. Flying DC-3s is much better than the way we used to travel, which was always by bus or train. But I'm still skeptical about these planes because they're not always in top condition. It seems that we always get the planes that are just about ready to go in for their 30,000 mile checkups. Plus, they're always cold. They don't warm up until we're halfway to our destination.
Rochester is always one of the more difficult places to play. The fans there are rabid. Last night, on a particular play, Jim Pollard was dribbling and had a wide open path to the basket and then literally got tackled from behind.
Since I'm captain and really the only person on the floor from our team that can talk to the official, I ran up to him when all of a sudden I noticed somebody throwing a knife at me. Thankfully, it missed me and stuck in the ground. I took one look at it and said to myself, "Forget about that play."
While we took our fare share of abuse from the people in the stands, we wanted to make sure they didn't forget us, either. Under one of their baskets is a set of double doors and over the years, we've sent many a guys flying through those doors. Last night, it was poor Bobby Wanzer's turn. We set him up. He came flying toward the goal and we just nailed him and he went soaring through the doors. Play stopped until Bobby could get back onto the court to shoot the free throws. He had to open the doors first.
Fort Wayne -- The Snake Pit
George Mikan found Rochester, N.Y. and Fort Wayne, Ind. to be two of the hardest places to play in the NBA.
Before we return to Minneapolis, we fly back to Chicago and then take a train to Fort Wayne to play the Pistons. That is another tough place to play. I call it the Snake Pit. That particular court is surrounded by a brick wall that stands about six to eight feet high and we always feel like we like we're gladiators in the old amphitheater days.
The people up there are looking down at you and throw things at you. The last time we played there, a lady by the name of Ma Collins would whack us with her saddle bag as we ran out onto the floor.
That same game, when Slater Martin heard all the hollering about how they wanted to kill us, he said to me, "I want to stand next to you just in case there is a fight."
About that time somebody took the top of a radiator cap off and threw it. It bounced in front of me over my head and he took one look and said, "I don't want to be near you, you're too good of a target."
What else do they do in Fort Wayne? They'll take a package of gum and throw it at you and when it hits you, it really stings. They'll also whack you with bags of peanuts.
We're looking forward to returning to Minneapolis.