George Mikan the best basketball player in the USA
George Mikan (1924-2005), born in a Croatian family in Illinois (his both parents are from Vivodina near Karlovac), was the best basketball player in the USA in 1944. He was the first dominant "big man" in NBA, known as the "Gentle Giant". He was also one of the most effective scorers of his time, avareging 22.6 points per game over his nine years long professional career, with the then record of 11,764 points. The Associated Press voted Mikan the greatest basketball player of the first half of the 20th century. When Mikan's LA Lakers came to Madison Square Garden, the marquee simply advertized "Tonight George Mikan versus the Knicks!". How basketball was played at that time, is indicated by the following: he lost four teeth (in his first professional game), had two broken legs, three broken fingers, broken wrist, broken nose and dozens of stitches. Even some NBA rules have been changed because of his superiority. George Mikan was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996 (on the occasion of 50 years of NBA), played four NBA all-star games, and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame.