NEW YORK, June 3, 2005 – The tributes for George Mikan, who passed away Wednesday night, continue to arrive. Here are more remembrances and tributes to the man who changed the game and made the NBA famous:

"George Mikan was an inspiration for anybody who wanted to play the center position. He made it a position of dominance and he made it apparent to anybody of size that their size and reach could be a great advantage in this game. He showed us how to do it. I certainly would not have the hook shot that went in if it wasn’t for the fundamentals I learned from George Mikan’s game. My prayers go out to his family. I know it is a tremendous loss. All of us are in a lot of debt to this gentleman. He was also a very warm and friendly human being.

"I just want say much respect, thank you, George. We all love you a lot."
-- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hall of Famer and one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players

"The game lost one of its greats. I have met George Mikan and it is sad when you speak of his name and know that he is a legend who no longer lives. I had a great opportunity to meet him at an All-Star Game and the photo session for the NBA at 50.

"He is a person that has touched my heart in many ways. Seeing him as a great legend and knowing the things he has done for this game, it was precious for to me to meet him and to hear that a great center like Shaq has such great respect for him. Guys that have played the game throughout our time, a lot of times I do not think they really realize the impact he has had on the game. "George Mikan was a guy that will always be remembered. I heard Doug Collins say, because of the Mikan Drill kids know about shooting the ball from their left hand on the right-hand side of the basket. That is something I have always used as a tool in the game when I played. It will be a part of what I carry on through the basketball and it will be something I always use. He will continue to play a special role in my life."
-- Scottie Pippen, one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players

"George Mikan’s legacy is that he gave the professional game a jump-start.

"The professional game was mostly in the Midwest and Pennsylvania. The thought about professional basketball was that it was a rough tough sport played by a bunch of rough tough guys and it was not the skillful show that the college players were putting on in the late ’40s.

"All of a sudden, Mikan comes along and he is a mega-star. The NBA was formerly the BAA, the Basketball Association of America. The BAA started and several teams of this National League -- Rochester was one and Minneapolis was another -- jumped to the BAA. Along with Mikan, there was a guy named Bobby Davies who was also very colorful. Those were the two best teams in our league. He jump-started the NBA. He was the first superstar and he gave legitimacy to professional basketball."
-- Dolph Schayes, Hall of Famer, one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players

"When I started to play back in 1956, George was the first big man. Ole No. 99 used to push Pro-Ked sneakers and they talked about what a great player he was. I really did not get a chance to see him play that much except on some clips and things. But I did read a lot about him and how he was the guy who really created the first dynasty in our league in terms of winning five championships with one team. Of course, Bill Russell became my idol as a guy growing up. Once I came into the league I had a chance to really visit and meet George Mikan. He was the start of the big men. After him we brought in Russell then Wilt Chamerblain.

"The game of basketball has been changed forever and I think it was because of the greatness of George Mikan and what he meant to the game. They changed the rules. It went from having a keyhole-type situation where when I first started to play. All of a sudden, we had a 12-foot lane to make it a little tougher for George Mikan.

"He really was a delightful person to be with. I had a chance to meet with him and visit with him on numerous occasions and obviously, at the NBA 50 in Cleveland in 1997, we were there together. If it wasn’t for him and what he started to create in big guys, maybe there would not have been a Wilt Chamberlain or a Bill Russell or a Willis Reed."
-- Willis Reed, Hall of Famer and one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players

"There is one thing that I know that George Mikan did better than playing basketball: He was an outstanding human being. He was very good at that. When you mature, you just know decency when you see it. I got to see George up close because I guarded him every time we played. I would say I made an abortive attempt to guard him. I have never heard him utter a cross word to an opponent. The guy was a special person. He was a guy you had the utmost respect for. When you can say you have never heard anyone say a cross word about another person, that kind of speaks volumes for me as a person.

"When you can start people thinking about changing the rules, you are a pretty good player. George was a guy that probably initiated the thinking about widening the lane. Early on, the lane was six feet wide. You could not have a guy as good as he was that close to the hoop. Basketball is different than baseball or football. You cannot add one player to a team and have a potential championship team. But through my time as a player, if you had taken George Mikan and put him on any team in the league, they were a potential championship team. I can’t give a guy any more respect than that.

"My best to the Mikan family. At the end of the day -- and this is the end of the day for George -- he won all of the awards from scoring titles to championships, and he was one of the top 50 players in the league, which says a lot, because after his tenure some great players came through the league."
-- Earl Lloyd, Hall of Famer


NEW YORK, June 2, 2005 – NBA Commissioner David Stern released the following statement today regarding the passing of George Mikan:

“George Mikan truly revolutionized the game and was the NBA’s first true superstar. He had the ability to be a fierce competitor on the court and a gentle giant off the court. We may never see one man impact the game of basketball as he did, and represent it with such warmth and grace. The NBA family extends its condolences to his entire family.”



Past and present NBA Legends reflect on the game's first dominant bigman.

"On behalf of the entire Lakers organization, I’d like to express our sadness at the passing of George Mikan, as well as to send our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the Mikan family. George was the first of many Lakers superstar players, blazing the trail for others such as Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. He also led the Lakers to the first five of our fourteen NBA Championships and he did so with consummate class, dignity and professionalism. Frankly, without George Mikan, the Los Angeles Lakers would not be the organization we are today."
-- Dr. Jerry Buss, Owner, Los Angeles Lakers

"George was a giant among men in the early days of the NBA. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was the first player in the league to really be an imposing and an intimidating figure on the court. He possessed a good touch and had the ability to go after the ball for a big man. Plus, he was very competitive and he really knew how to play and win in the game of basketball."
-- Arnold 'Red' Auerbach, President, Boston Celtics

"George was an amazing ball player and man. In the early years of the NBA, he was the greatest impact player of that era. He was a big man who could do so many things on the court. He literally transcended the sport and he created such visibility. George had tremendous impact yet it was only witnessed by small audiences, which was a shame. In the 1940’s and 50’s, he was the marquee player and he lifted us out of the doldrums and made the league respectable. We (the Celtics teams I played on) always got up when the Lakers came to Boston to play us. We wanted to beat the best team and we would try our darndest but with George, Mikklesen (Vern), Pollard (Jim), Slater Martin and others on their team – they would beat us every time."
-- Bob Cousy: (1950-1963)

"George Mikan is a true pioneer of the NBA. He was a giant of a man in more ways than one. He was the first really great big man in our league. And, he was one tough customer to contend with night in and night out."
-- Tom Heinsohn: (1956-65)

The above three quotes are from Celtics.com

"George Mikan helped set the standard for what a true center is in this game. I and everyone who came after him are measured by what he did. He was the "Big Original," and as years pass and the game progresses, people will appreciate in even a greater sense the art of the true center. His legacy will last as long as the game of basketball."
-- Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat

"George Mikan was the bedrock of the game we have today, not only as a player, but as a human being. His tireless work, on and off the court, changed all of our lives--- while his willingness to stand up for what was right remains unparalleled. His extraordinary vision and compassion always took him down the right path and his crusade to help the less fortunate was always at the forefront. How timely and touching it was that ESPN just ran that remarkable and emotional rollercoaster of a feature on George’s struggle for his own dignity that was ultimately denied to him in his golden years -- to the point where he sadly had to sell his own memorabilia-collection just to stay afloat and pay his medical bills.

When I first joined the NBA 30 years ago, I went to see George Mikan, desperately seeking advice. While he was instrumental in his words of wisdom, guidance and direction -- what really stuck with me was his parting words when he said, 'Bill, I learned a great lesson early on in life. The harder I worked, the luckier I got.' Despite all of George’s hard work, his own luck ultimately ran out and the stain of his last and ultimately failed mission is something that leaves an incredible burden on OUR shoulders and souls to carry on his mission."
-- Bill Walton, Hall of Famer, One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History

“George was really the NBA’s first superstar. He was the first big draw in the league. Everyone came out to see him. If it were not for Mikan, there would probably be no NBA.”
-- Slater Martin, former teammate of Mikan’s on five Minneapolis Laker championship teams in the ’50s

“In the ’40s and 50s, George was the greatest impact player the league had and its most dominant. He was a godsend to the NBA. We were at the bottom of the totem pole during those years and whatever attention we were getting, pretty much was thanks to George. He is maybe the first NBA player who transcended the sport. One year in New York the marquee at Madison Square Garden read: “Geo Mikan vs. Knicks.” He had that kind of status over and above just being a basketball player.”
-- Bob Cousy

“George was a tough competitor. He was a wonderful person and had a wonderful personality. Everybody who knew him, liked him. Except on the court, he was very tough. He played the game as it should be played. There was no kissing and hugging of other players. When you were out there, if the guy had the other color uniform on, for that time frame, he was the enemy. The Lakers were a great team. Their frontline of Pollard, Mikkelsen, and Mikan could compete against any frontline in basketball history. Probably a lot of the young people have forgotten about Mikan or never even heard of him. To those of us who played with him and knew George, it is a tremendous loss. I saw that piece they had on ESPN several weeks ago, and it was really heart-wrenching. George was one of the people who established the game."
-- Paul Arizin, Philadelphia Warriors

"He obviously was the first of the real high-profile players. He literally carried the league. He gave us recognition and acceptance when we were at the bottom of the totem pole in professional sports. He transcended the game. People came to see him as much as they came to see the game."
-- Bob Cousy ABC News, June 2, 2005

"It was certainly fair to say he was the Michael Jordan of his time, but I take it another step. He was Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, all rolled into one in our time.

Everywhere we went, George was immediately recognized not just because he's tall but because he was immaculately dressed and he had the glasses on and he had a big smile on his face. He was inundated, absolutely inundated."
-- Vern Mikkelsen, Hall of Famer ABC News, June 2, 2005

Russell to Mikan: "You were my hero. I studied everything you did."
-- Bill Russell, Hall of Famer New York Times, June 2, 2005

"He showed a big man was not just a freak, not just some big guy who could hardly walk and chew gum at the same time."
-- Wilt Chamberlain, Hall of Famer New York Times, June 2, 2005

"I know a lot of baseball players today don't know who Jackie Robinson is. And a lot of basketball players don't know the pioneers of the game, either. I never took it for granted. And that's why I want to pay homage to a man like Mr. Mikan, who made it possible for me to make a living playing basketball."
-- Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Hall of Famer Minnesota Star-Tribune, June 2, 2005

"George Mikan was the greatest competitor I ever coached. He got better every time he played and I was a great coach when he was on the floor."
-- Ray Meyer, Former DePaul Coach Reuters Canada, June 2, 2005

"It was great to see a guy like George Mikan, who set the tone for not just big guys, but the game of basketball. Without George Mikan, there wouldn't be any big men. There wouldn't be any hook. Just think, Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) got 38,000 points off the hook alone. That tells you a lot about what he has done, and the milestones he has set in the game of basketball. He set the standard about how the game is played."
-- Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Jose Mercury News, April 9, 2001

"Anybody who doesn't know who Geoge Mikan is, is not a basketball fan."
-- Garnett Minnesota Star-Tribune, June 2, 2005

"When I think about George Mikan, I skip all the Wilt Chamberlains and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars and I call him the 'The Original Big Man.' Without George Mikan, there would be no up-and-unders, no jump hooks, and there would be no label of the big man."
-- Garnett ABC News, June 2, 2005

"That's a great matchup. Both guys were just too physical for the opponents that they played. I played Mikan in three championships series although I didn't actually guard him. ... I think Shaq and Mikan are comparable in their physical domination over people. It's close."
-- Dr. Ernie Vanderweghe, Former Knick, on how Mikan would fare against Shaquille O’Neal, FoxSports.com, June 2, 2005

"His elbows should be in the Hall of Fame."
-- Ed Macauley, a contemporary who lost a tooth while defending Mikan, New York Times, June 2, 2005