The BAA clearly had the best arenas in the bigger cities, but the National Basketball League, which featured teams in smaller Midwest cities, claimed the best players. However, this changed prior to the 1948 season, when the NBL's four best teams--Fort Wayne, Rochester, Indianapolis and Minneapolis--jumped to the BAA. Overnight, the best players and the biggest arenas, in the largest media centers, were brought together for the first time.

George Mikan's jersey.

The Minneapolis team came with the man who would become the sport's star attraction and the first in a long line of great big men, George Mikan. At 6-10 and 245 pounds, Mikan revolutionized the game with his inside scoring, effortlessly throwing in hook shots with either hand on his way to a 28.3 ppg average, earning him the first of three league scoring titles.

The revitalized 12-team league resumed a 60-game schedule, with Washington finishing first in the Eastern Division and Rochester besting Minneapolis by one game in the West. Minneapolis breezed through the Western Division Playoffs and met Washington in the Finals. Mikan scored 42 points in Game 1 and led the Lakers over Washington in six games.

Mikan's arrival signaled many things: the advent of the big man, the demise of the NBL, and the rise of the league's first dynasty in Minneapolis. Washington's Horace "Bones" McKinney, who had the unpleasant task of guarding Mikan, recalled that even a broken hand suffered in Game 4 of the Finals didn't stop Mikan.

"He wore a cast that was hard as a brick," McKinney said. "It fit right in with his elbows. It would kill you. And it didn't bother his shooting a bit."