The Lost Finals MVP: 1950
George Mikan is ready to wreck
Now that we’re done with the Lost MVPs, it’s time to figure out who the Lost Finals MVPs are!
From 1950 to 1968, the NBA did not hand out any award to honor the best player in the championship round, so here I am to make these retroactive decisions.
Them decisions will admittedly be a bit of alchemy.
The strongest factor, of course, will be who was the best player on the team that won the series. However, if a player from a losing team had an absurd performance it can overwhelm the default toward honoring the series winner. Particularly if the winning team didn’t have any standout performer. Especially if the series went six or seven tough games.
Another bit of this alchemy might be whether a player put up a stupendous performance to clinch the title. Maybe another person on the team slightly outperformed them the rest of the series, but if someone just comes out and dominates the closing game then that might steal the award.
Anyhoo, with that out the way…
George Mikan is the runaway winner of the 1950 Lost Finals MVP. And like his win of the regular season award, this shit ain’t close. Big George averaged 32.2 points per game in this series.
Nobody on either team came close to matching his domination.
Let’s get some perspective on that scoring from Mikan in this era before the shot clock.
The Minneapolis Lakers defeated the Syracuse Nationals 4-2 in that first NBA Finals. The Lakers averaged 84.5 points and the Nats 80.2 points in the series. The next highest scorer on either team was Dolph Schayes with 17.3 points. Then there was Johnny Macknowski and Jim Pollard tied with 13.7 PPG.
So, Mikan put up nearly 40% of his teams points in the series and just about doubled up his opponent’s leading scorer.
And his production was pretty steady throughout the series with no one game distorting the average.
Game 1: 37 points
Game 2: 32 points
Game 3: 28 points
Game 4: 28 points
Game 5: 28 points
Game 6: 40 points
(I’d have more stats, but at this stage points were the only stat reliably kept in this first NBA Finals).
That Game 1 tally was especially important as it was the lowest scoring game and the tightest contest of the Finals. Minneapolis pulled out the road win, 68-66, courtesy of a long-range bomb from Bob Harrison in the final seconds.
Minneapolis needed that Game 1 win because the home squad won every other game of that series. And Syracuse had home court advantage thanks to their (barely) better regular season record.
And the two teams had also split their regular season meetings. Syracuse won their home game over MPLS on March 5: 84-75. Minneapolis won their home game over SYR on January 11: 98-88.
Harrison’s long-ass bomb was the final shot, but Mikan delivered the Game 1 body blows that kept Minneapolis in the contest that gave them their only road victory over Syracuse that entire season.
Also, Mikan was the dude who made Harrison’s shot possible.
On the previous play, with the game tied 66-66, Mikan blocked an Al Cervi shot that, had it gone in, would have put Syracuse ahead.
So, yeah. George Mikan. The clear-cut winner of the first Lost Finals MVP.
We’ll be seeing much more of Mikan in this series.
Newspaper clips from the Minneapolis Tribune, April 9, 1950
I love that Harrison shot it like Dame Lillard, confidently.
AND a key Bud Grant bucket? My Viking loving heart smiles brightly on this one. Thanks as always!