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Mr. Basketball: George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers, and the Birth of the NBA Hardcover – October 30, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596912138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596912137
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,335,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schumacher (Family Business) explores the on-court life and legacy of George Mikan, the big man who revolutionized both college and professional basketball as a dominant center in the '40s and '50s and as the American Basketball Association's first commissioner in the 1960s. Several rules in the modern game were enacted to offset 6'10 Mikan's uncommon height advantage at the time: his shot-blocking ability for DePaul University led to the goaltending rule in college basketball in 1943, and his rebounding and scoring for the Minneapolis Lakers prompted the nascent NBA to widen the free-throw lane from six feet to 12 feet in 1951. Wilt Chamberlain described Mikan as the first true superstar of the league, and Shaquille O'Neal, who paid for Mikan's funeral when he died in 2005 in dire financial straits due to the expenses of his health problems, said, Without George Mikan, there is no me. A native of Joliet, Ill., Mikan was from a Croatian family and remained a true Midwesterner to the end, Schumacher writes. Schumacher's narrative sometimes gets bogged down with tedious, almost box score–like itemizing of the numerous games from Mikan's college and pro careers. Recounting these games in such specifics will be of interest to hardcore fans of the early pro game, but it does little to shed light on the man off the basketball court. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Mikan was basketball's first great big man. At nearly seven feet, he came to the nation's attention in the 1940s as an awkward behemoth at Chicago's DePaul University. But through hard work under the tutelage of coach Ray Meyer, he became the dominant collegiate player of his era and subsequently went on to star for the Minneapolis Lakers of the fledgling NBA. Beyond his size and basketball ability, Mikan was a regular guy, a stereotypical midwesterner—family man, married for 58 years. Biographies of regular guys can be a bit bland, so Schumacher wisely blends Mikan's story with a history of the rough-and-tumble infancy of professional basketball. In those early days, the one player capable of filling the stands was Mikan, and it was on his broad back that the league began to establish itself. Research included dozens of interviews with family, teammates, coaches, and friends as well as voluminous secondary sources. Although it's an excellent source of information on an early superstar, the real value of this volume is as a guide to the NBA's nascent years. Lukowsky, Wes

Customer Reviews

I'm giving this book two stars because I'm tired of giving sports bios one star.
John Aquilegia
The writing style is pedestrian, there is really little about Mikan that is insightful.
Dennis P. Anderson
Schumacher really hit all of the major points needed to better understand this man.
Chuck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dennis P. Anderson on November 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Several of the other Amazon "reviews" for this book merely state facts about Mikan and The Lakers and NOT about the book. I bought it with the intent of really learning about this wonderful man and the team. I grew up in Minneapolis in the 1950s. After reading the book, I essentially learned nothing new about George Mikan, his interests, motivations, relationships, family times and adjustments, law practice, etc. The writing style is pedestrian, there is really little about Mikan that is insightful. The author claims to have interviewed Mikan's widow and children. He obviously does not know how to dig deep in conducting an interview to capture the human interest of his subject in the printed word. What a shame. George Mikan deserves better. Now I am going to try and find a copy of his autobiography, which is supposed to be out of print, to see if I can learn some insights about this unique man.

Superficially- written biographies and historical accounts are a dime a dozen these days. This is one of them. My message to hack authors: really do your homework and dig deep before you write or don't write.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Norman Jones on July 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Although this book is a little light on George Mikan's personal life, it is a nice re-count of his accomplishments in basketball. Readers must concentrate on the title and consider that Mikan helped tremendously in getting the NBA up and running. His star power launched the NBA into what it has become today. A great memory for me about Mikan is that I was playing for a small college in Indiana (Manchester) and we played at DePaul well after Mikan had graduated. Ray Meyer was still the coach and the school made sure that visiting teams had to run past an almost full length picture of Mikan on the way to the floor. Mikan's stature is still remembered by all of those who saw him play and own the lanes in basketball in the late 1940s and 50s. This is a good book for those who want to learn more about how the NBA got started and about one of the most dominant players and one of the most legendary teams in basketball history. Norman Jones, Ed. D. author of Growing Up in Indiana: The Culture & Hoosier Hysteria Revisited and Main St. vs. Wall St.: Wake-up Calls for America's Leaders.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Bullock on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By "typical book," I mean that it covers Mikan's career in great detail, give you some early biographical info, and then zips thru this post career life in mere seconds, until coverage of his death - maybe there isn't much happening after an athlete retires but it should would be nice to see some real research every once in a while. Wait for this to come out in paperback - in fact, wait for it to come out in mass market paperback - either that or in your library's discard pile.
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By WDX2BB on December 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
George Mikan had a big part in the initial growth of the NBA. Pun intended.

Mikan was an early superstar of the league, and he showed everyone how it should be done in a lot of areas. That makes Michael Schumacher's book on Mikan's career, "Mr. Basketball," relevant to hoop fans.

Way back in the 1940's, big people who played the game of basketball were generally considered freaks and uncoordinated. If anything they were the subject of scorn.

Miken changed the mold. He was about 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, and he was almost graceful. The center also could knock opponents out of the way with a forearm or elbow; he wasn't someone to upset.

Mikan first turned up at DePaul University, where he caught the eye of then assistant coach Ray Meyer. The eventually legendary coach worked closely with Mikan, developing his skills. When Mikan was ready to carry the Blue Demons into the national spotlight, Meyer went along for the ride as the head coach. College basketball wasn't particularly structured back then, and the NIT and NCAA tournaments were competing for fame at that point. Still, Mikan was good against all comers, averaging more than 20 points per game twice.

From there it was on to the pros with the Minneapolis Lakers, where Mikan quickly became the leader of the first dynasty in the pro game. Some of Schumacher's best work centers on how primitive the pro game was back then, loaded with fights and rules that seem archaic in hindsight. In fact, the league widened the lane on the court by six feet to keep players like Mikan away from the basket.

It didn't help. George was good no matter what the rules were. He only played seven years in the BAA/NBA but won five championships.
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More About the Author

Michael Schumacher has written twelve books, including "Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (Minnesota, 2012) and "Wreck of the Carl D.," and twenty-five documentaries on Great Lakes shipwrecks and lighthouses. He lives in Wisconsin.
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