The Lost Finals MVP: 1952
Return of the Mikan
Well 1951 was fun. Got to hand out an award to Not George Mikan aka Arnie Risen.
Well, it’s back to normal in 1952. George Mikan is the Lost Finals MVP for this year. And there isn’t much debate on this one, although more than what there was in 1950.
First let’s take a look at the actual series and other potential winners before we officially fete King George.
For the second season in a row, the New York Knicks lost the NBA Finals in seven games.
Going the full distance ostensibly opens the door for a player from the losing team to be Finals MVP. But the Knicks just didn’t have anyone stand out. If you read my Lost MVPs series, you know that was a common theme for them. Lots of really good players always sharing credit. Bunch of Bolsheviks.
As for the Minneapolis Lakers, Vern Mikkelsen and Jim Pollard were pretty darn good in this series.
Mikkelsen averaged 13.1 PPG and 8.3 RPG on .493 FG%. That’s a really great FG% for the era. Mik even had a super awesome Game 5 with 32 points and 12 rebounds. He shot 14-21 from the field as Minneapolis won, 102-89.
Meanwhile, Pollard averaged 16.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.0 APG and .471 FG% in the series and had a superlative Game 1. The Lakers won that game, 83-79, in overtime. With Mikan fouling out, Pollard saved the day with 34 points on 14-22 FGs. Pollard did miss two games in the series, though.
Game 4 was another overtime affair and was Mikan’s worst game of the series: 11 points, 17 rebounds, and another foul-out. However, little Slater Martin (barley 5’10”) had 32 points on 11-19 FGs and nearly won the game for the Lakers. They fell 90-89 with Pollard and Mikkelsen also fouling out with Mikan.
Well, that’s enough fooling around with those light weights.
On to Mikan time.
Big George was not as dominating as he was in the 1950 Finals where he averaged 32 PPG brutalizing the Syracuse Nationals, but he still was the man in this series. As usual, he blew everyone away in PPG with 21.7. Pollard was the next highest scorer with his 16.4 PPG and after that it was New York’s Connie Simmons with 14.7 PPG.
Mikan’s production did not have the wild fluctuations found with Pollard, Mikkelsen, and Martin. It certainly fluctuated, but he held a higher and steadier bar.
Put another way… Pollard, Mikkelsen, and Martin scored over 15 points a combined three times in the series. Mikan did so five times on his own.
However Mikan shot just .353 FG% as the Knicks threw everything and the kitchen sink at him. The kitchen sink does tend to draw attention from the refs, though.
Especially if you’re throwing it at another player.
Mikan made up for the dip in FG% by raking in the free throws. He took 10 FTAs per game in this series and made 78% of them. That meant he led the Lakers (and Knicks) in total attempts and led the Lakers in conversion rate. The team as a whole shot just 69.5% (65.3% without Mikan’s numbers added in).
Mikan also led both teams in rebounds every single game of this series. In total, he snared a heroic 17.4 rebounds per game nearly doubling the next highest rebounder in the series (Harry Gallatin’s 9.9 RPG).
So congrats George, you get another Lost Finals MVP.
See y’all back here for 1953, where I’m sure we’ll again give him another one.