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“I’d like to join the rest of the greatest Lakers up in the rafters” - Los Angeles Lakers honored George Mikan's last wish

The late Lakers great George Mikan dreamed of seeing his jersey in the rafters. His family and the players he inspired finally got to watch it unfold.
Los Angeles Lakers center George Mikan

George Mikan

Sunday night marked a special day for the Los Angeles Lakers as the franchise retired George Mikan's jersey number. The legendary big man did not live long enough to receive the recognition personally, but his family was present to celebrate the honor.

His sons, Mike and Patrick, sat down with NBA.com after the ceremony for an interview. Mike Mikan reflected on the ceremony, stating that having the No. 99 up in the Lakers' rafters was one of his father's dreams before dying.

"That was one of Dad's wishes and dreams on his deathbed," said Mikan. "He said, 'I'd like to join the rest of the greatest Lakers up in the rafters.' Today we did it."

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A legacy intact

Some fans might not know much about George Mikan, as the 6-foot-10 phenom's playing career spanned from 1946 to 1956. He had many accolades, including five championships with the Lakers franchise, which played in Minneapolis then, and leading the league in scoring and rebounding multiple times.

However, his legacy goes beyond his performance on the court. His dominance inside the paint led to some rule changes that are still applied today, such as the widening of the free-throw lane and the introduction of defensive goaltending.

In addition, George Mikan paved the way for the superstar centers of the next generations. Lakers legend Shaquille O'Neal even credits the man called "Mr. Basketball" for the player he had become.

A long time coming

Given that he retired from playing after the 1955-56 season, one might wonder why it took so long for the Lakers to retire his jersey. A probable reason was that George Mikan played for the organization while it was still based outside L.A.

Fortunately, the team decided to do the right thing and give the late NBA great his due honor. 

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