No. 99: George Mikan

Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal has offered to pay for the funeral services for George Mikan, who died Wednesday. I was very pleased by this.

George who?

George Mikan was, by all accounts, the first truly dominant basketball player. Because of him, they widened the paint (the area under the basket), so he couldn’t just stop everything. The goaltending rule (blocking a shot after it begins its downward arc) was created because of the 6’10” Mikan, as was the institution of the shot clock.

Mikan was named the best player in the first half-century, and one of the 50 greatest of all time, according to people who select these things.

Mikan was the first great Laker center, back when the team was in Minneapolis. (The Lakers were named for Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. The “Los Angeles” Lakers makes as much sense as the Utah Jazz, who USED to play in New Orleans.) Shaq was the last great Laker center, after the late Wilt Chamberlain, who used to clog the lane like Mikan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose skyhook was similar to Mikan’s hook shot.

I liked that Shaq is offering to care for the Mikan family because it shows his sense of history and because it shows that he recognizes the disparity of the kind of money players were making then as opposed to the current pay scale. The Mikan family was struggling financially with George’s illness and a pension plan for old-timers a pittance compared to what later players would receive.

As Shaq said, “Without No. 99 (Mikan’s number), there is no me.”

Save our bus route!

May 30, 2005

Dear Capital District Transportation Authority:

I was extremely interested to read the story in last Tuesday’s Times Union, “Complaints stall CDTA plan.” When I heard of the plans for the changes, I was quite disappointed, but assumed that the decisions were final. I was pleased, therefore, to discover that you have at least delayed the proposed route changes.

I never knew of the petition signed by people protesting the proposed changes on the route, but certainly would have signed it had I known.

I am not a current rider of that bus. However, our daughter is going to day care starting in September. Part of the decision for selecting that specific facility (and subsequently putting down a deposit to secure a slot) was its easy access by the bus from our house. The new schedule would have meant an extra couple block walk, which would have been OK in the good weather, but problematic in the winter and in inclement weather. The new times were also less desirable.

Thank you for reconsidering this matter.

Sincerely, Roger Green – posted to on 6/3/05

I write this, not so much to mention this fairly parochial matter from my point of view, but to remind me, and perhaps remind you, that sometimes you can fight City Hall (or at least the bus company.)

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