Mikan was a 6-10 giant of a man who had dominated college basketball in his four years atDePaul. He joined the Chicago American Gears at the end of the 1945-46 season, then led the Gears to the NBL Championship the following year.
Prior to the 1947-48 campaign Maurice White,president of the American Gear Company and owner of the Chicago team, pulled the club out of the NBL. White's plan was to create a 24-team circuit called the Professional BasketballLeague of America, in which he would own all of the teams and all of the arenas. But the new league lasted barely a month, and the players on White's teams were distributed among the11 NBL franchises. The first-year Minneapolis Lakers landed Mikan strictly by chance.
The Lakers were a good team even without Mikan. The club featured a fine forward named JimPollard and one of the better playmakers in the league in Herm Schaefer. Coaching the squad was John Kundla, who had been hired away from the University of Minnesota. But once thebespectacled Mikan joined the Lakers there was no stopping them.
Minneapolis walked away with the NBL crown that season. After winning the Western Division by 13 games, the team disposedof the Oshkosh All-Stars, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and the Rochester Royals. Minneapolis lost only two games during the postseason, one in the first round and one in the finalsagainst the Royals. Mikan paced the circuit in scoring during the regular season with 21.3 points per game and was tops in postseason play with an average of 24.4 points per contest.