The Lost Finals MVP: 1954
One last toast to Big George
After his longtime teammate Jim Pollard stole the award in 1953, George Mikan is once again the Lost Finals MVP!
The Minneapolis Lakers played the Syracuse Nationals for a second time in the NBA Finals The two squads previously met in 1950. And just like before, Mikan was bustin’ loose through the Nationals.
However, being 29 years old and on the verge of retirement, Mikan averaged just 18.1 PPG in 1954 compared to his 32.2 PPG average of 1950. Still, the points average was easily the best in this series.
Also, in this ‘54 series Mikan shot a blistering .441 FG% and .822 FT%.
(1954 NBA average for FG% was .372 and the average FT% was .709. Ergo, Mikan’s percentages count as blistering).
Although this series went seven games and the teams alternated victories the entire time, only two of the contests provided truly desperate Maalox moments. The Lakers also got lucky that Syracuse was a veritable M*A*S*H unit with six of their men playing through some sort of injury in a desperate bid to capture the Nats’ first title.
Injuries have decided many playoff series, though. Them’s the breaks in sports.
Anyhoo, here are the two close contests…
Game 2 was a 62-60 win for Syracuse. Mikan was fine with 15 points and 15 rebounds on 6-11 FGs and 3-3 FTs. His teammates kind of sucked, though, combining to shoot 14-50 (.280) from the field. This poor Laker performance allowed Wally Osterkorn, typically a Nationals bench player, to paste the Lakers with 20 points and 17 rebounds to deliver the Syracuse win.
Game 6 was the other “Mikan does it all and his teammates wet the bed” game. Except it was even worse than Game 2.
Despite Mikan scoring 30 points and grabbing 18 rebounds (on 11-23 FGs and 8-10 FTs), the Nationals still won the game by a final score of 65-63. The killer for Minneapolis was that the rest of the team shot just 9-17 from the free throw line.
Deliver just three more measly free throw makes and y’all woulda had the title won then, Minneapolis. Instead they wasted a 30-point scoring burst from old man Mikan.
So naturally in the decisive Game 7, Mikan had a bad game with 11 points on 2-10 FGs, but fellow elder statesman Jim Pollard and rookie center Clyde Lovellette combined for 35 points on 14-23 FGs to secure an 87-80 win.
I bet Mikan secretly sucked on purpose that game to see whether his teammates could bring this title on home.
Despite the bad closing performance, Mikan was clearly the series MVP. Just check the series box score for confirmation.
And with that we bid farewell to the NBA’s most dominant player of the early 1950s. Mikan garnered three Lost MVPs and three Lost Finals MVPs in five years of action.
For 1955, the Syracuse Nationals would be back in the NBA Finals taking on the Fort Wayne Pistons in another seven-game series. And with Mikan gone we’re obviously gonna have a new Lost Finals MVP.
62-60? Geez, no wonder the Nats owner created the 24 second clock.