Lakers to retire George Mikan’s No. 99 on Oct. 30

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Though it took them several decades to do so, the Los Angeles Lakers are finally righting a historic wrong.

The Lakers announced on Wednesday that they will be retiring the No. 99 jersey of franchise legend George Mikan. The ceremony will take place during their game at home against the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 30.

Mikan, who died in 2005 at the age of 80, was the very first superstar in NBA history. He led the Lakers, who then played in Minneapolis, to five championships from 1949-54 and began the team’s rich tradition of dominant big men. Mikan also made four All-Star teams, won an MVP award, took home four scoring titles, made all of the NBA’s anniversary teams (25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th), and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1959.

Despite all that however, the Mikan-led Minneapolis era has largely been erased (or at least minimized) in the Lakers’ history books. The organization and their fans have been quick to tout the 17 total championships won by the Lakers (including the five won in Minneapolis). But it took them until 2002 to formally honor the Minneapolis era. At a game in April of that year, the Lakers honored Mikan by lifting his name to the rafters next to their retired jersey numbers (lumped together on a banner with the names of teammates Vern Mikkelsen, Slater Martin, Jim Pollard, and Clyde Lovellette plus their coach John Kundla). Another banner that honored the five Minneapolis championships (all lumped together as well) was also lifted to the rafters next to the Los Angeles championship banners.

Mikan died three years later, without ever seeing his No. 99 jersey officially be retired by the Lakers. Though no Laker has worn Mikan’s number since, it is good to see the team finally doing right by their franchise’s history (something that has not always been a strong suit for the Lakers).



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