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George Mikan gentle giant and the first big dominant basketball player in the history of NBA has Croatian roots
By Darko ®ubrinić | Published  07/20/2013 | Sports , People , Education , Croatian Life Stories | Unrated
Gina and Molly Mikan, grand-daughters of George Mikan, visited Croatia, the land of George's grandparents

George Mikan (1924-2005) - known as Gentle Giant. Look at his elegant suit, gentle smile, and his intellectual outlook with glasses.
One would say that he is a university professor, rather than a professional basketball player.
Bill Schroeder presents Helm Medallion noting Mikan's election into Helms athletic foundation Hall of Fame.
Photo by Green & Tillisch, courtesy: First Interstate Bank Athletic Foundation - Sports Museum.
Many thanks to Mr. Vladimir Novak, Croatia/USA, for the photo.

Two NBA giants: George Mikan with his glasses, and Shaquil O'Neal.
Shaquil wrote the following dedication: To George, without you there would be no me.
I am obliged to Ms. Gina Mikan, George Mikan's grand-daugher, for briniging this very nice photo as a gift to Zagreb.

At the left is Joe, in the middle is Mr. Mikan, in front of him is Eddie, and on the right is the famous player George.
George Mikan, on the right, is behind his grandfather, also named George Mikan, born in Croatia, in Vivodina, as Juraj Mikan (Juraj = George).
Many thanks to Mr. Vladimir Novak for the copy of the article, containing this photo. It was published in
The American Croatian HISTORICAL REVIEW
, in the article that we enclose below.

The American Croatian HISTORICAL REVIEW, July 1946

George Mikan

George MIKAN, the famous athlete, was born in Joliet, Illinois, of Croatian ancestry.

His grandfather, George Mikan, who is now seventy-two years of age, conducts his own restaurant, the Geo. Mikan Restaurant, serving excellent food, at 2601 Broadway, Joliet, Illinois, with the help of his wife Mary, and his grandsons. The family also owns the Mikan Skating Rink in Joliet, which can accomodate from 300 to 500 persons.

When a representative of the American Croatian Historical Review visited Mr. Mikan last month for the purpose of obtaining information concerning his famous grandson, Mr. Mikan told him the following story:

"I was born seventy-two years ago in the village of Vivodina, near Jaske, Croatia. I left my native country and came to Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 1891, and obtained work in nearby Rankin. I planned to stay in America for a short time, then to return to Croatia. However, I changed my mind and decided to marry and to stay in the United States. I was married in 1906 by Father Bozic in the St. Nicholas Croatian Roman Catholic Church of Allegheny, Pennsylvania. On October 17, 1907, a son was born to us, and soon thereafter we moved to Joliet, where we have remained since."

At this point Mr. Mikan motioned toward the trophies won by his grandson George. These were lying on the counter, but he stated: "There are more of them, but George has them somewhere." He handede them to the representative, one by one, who made a record of the inscriptions engraved on the trophies.

1946-Gold Star Memorial Award, Honoring All College Basketball Player, Wo Made The Supreme Sacrifice in the Wordl War II. Presented to GEORGE MIKAN, DePaul University, By the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association as the Outstanding Visiting Player.


Whiting Open Gold Tourney, M. V. P., 1942.


Player of the Year - GEORGE MIKAN, DePaul University, Selected by True Magazine for Greatest Number of Votes from Naton's Writers, Coaches and Sportcasters.


All American Basketball Poll, 1945/46, Sponsored By Fawcett Publications.


True Magazine All-American Basketball Team 1945-46, GEORGE MIKAN, DePaul, Selected by the Nation's Leading Writers, Coaches, and Sporcasters, Sponsored by Fawcett Publications.


Valuable Player Award 1943-44, Chicago Stadium Presented By Chicago Basketball Writer Assoc. to GEO. MIKAN, DePaul U.


Most Valuable Player, DePaul U., Invitational Tournament Chicago Stadium 1945 Awarde to GEO. MIKAN.

After the notation of the trophies were recorded, and after Mr. Mikan had replaced them, he procured a picture of George, which we are reporducing, and a snapshot taken seventeen years ago, stating: "This is me with my three grandsons, Joe, George, and Eddie."

Mr. Mikan continued: "My son, the father of George, is working at the Common Pleas Court here in Joliet. His sons, three of them, with a daughter, are all with us, as one family." "By the way," exclaimed Mr. Mikan, "my son married a Lithuanian girl, Minnie."

When he was asked about the childhood and schooling of George, Mr. Mikan replied: "George was born in Joliet, and was baptized in the Croatian Roman Catholic Church. He wnt to St. Joseph's School, and then to the Croaitan Catholic School. " From there he went to Moren Public High School, and after the completion of that term he went to the Metropolitan Business College, where he studied typing and shorthand.

It was our wish that George become a priest, and we enrolled him in the Quigle Preparatory Seminary, where he spent four years. When the time came that he should enter school at the Mundelein St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, he chose instead De Paul University, where he has been ever since."

He continued, "I am proud of my grandson, and am glad that we Croatians have made a contribution to the progress and development of our America, not only in its industry, but in its sporting world, also."

The Review is proud to be able to publish this short sketch about such a great athelete as George Mikan, and his family.

Many thanks to Mr. Vladimir Novak, Croatia/USA, for the copy of this article. According to his personal information, the article was published in The American Croatian HISTORICAL REVIEW in July 1946. Only five or six issues of the journal have been published. The journal can be seen at Croatian Ethnic Institute in Chicago. This very nice journal, published by The Croatian Historical Research Bureau, Youngstown, Ohio, was founded by Clement Mihanovich, professor at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Clement Simon Mihanovich was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 3, 1913. From 1919 to 1927 he attended St. Joseph's Croatian Grammar School. From 1927 to 1931 he attended William Cullen McBride High School in St. Louis, Missouri. In the year 1931 he enrolled in the School of Education of St. Louis University from which he graduated with the degree of B. S. in Education in the year 1935. enrolled in the Graduate School of St. Louis University in the year 1935. His Thesis at St. Louis University was Americanization of the Croatians in St, Louis, Missouri During the Past Thirty Years.
Source: late Adam Eterovich

Below this article follows another one, entitled "Rescue On The Atlantic", describing how a Croatian bark named HERVATSKA, that is, CROATIA, sailing on February 2, 1882 from Philadelphia to Dalmatian ports, saved a crew of the English vessel, the CHEROKEE OF GREENOCK, during a desastrous storm in the Atlantic.  It obtained a recognition of the English Queen. The bark was a property of  the Senj Navigation Corporation (Senj is a Croatian port in the Adriatic Sea), built in 1874.

The American Croatian HISTORICAL REVIEW, July 1946, contains the above very nice article about George Mikan.
On the front page we can see the father of petroleum engineering, distinguished Croatian-American researcher Anthony F. Lucas (Antun Lučić).
Contents: Editorial. Acknowledgments and preface. The Birth of A Great Discoverer (Captain Francis Stephen Lucic / Lucas,
discoverer of petroleum at Spindletop in Texas). The Pride of Every Croatian and Slav
(George Mikan, basketball player). Rescue on the Atlantic (Croatian bark Hervatska and its rescue
of the crew of the English vessel Cherokee of Greenock). ; 11.0" tall; 16 pages.

NBA Legends about THE FIRST NBA LEGEND - George Mikan

From right to left: Ms. Gina Mikan (Minneapolis), Mrs. ®eljka Kerin Mikan (Zagreb), Ms. Molly Mikan (Minneapolis), and Darko ®ubrinić,
enjoying in Zagreb. Gina and Molly are sisters, born and living in Minneapolis, USA, and grand-daughters of great George Mikan.
Mrs. ®eljka Mikan is their distant relative, born and living in Croatia. In 2013 Molly and Gina visited Croatia and a village near the town of
Vivodina, SW of Zagreb, where ®eljka's parents live, and from where George Mikan's grandfather originates.

Car route from Croatia's capital Zagreb to the village of Vivodina,
the place where George Mikan's grandfather Juraj Mikan was born.

Vivodina, a very nice Croatian town, near which a grandfather of George Mikan was born. His name was Juraj Mikan.
Vivodina coat of Arms. The town exists since 1321!
The village of Gornji Lović near Vivodina, where Juraj Mikan was born.
Many thanks to Mr. Mojsija from Vivodina for his kind help.

Please, go to the next page below.

  • Comment #1 (Posted by Tomislav)

    This is the best article about George Mikan until today.
    Thanks Darko, you are a genius
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