Sports Card Highlight: George Mikan
I realize that there are basketball cards out there today that are worth monster money, especially if they’re rookie cards. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from this series already, it’s that rookie cards are valuable. And if you read my Lebron James or Michael Jordan card blogs, you know that they’re capable of being worth millions. However, that’s not really what I wanted this series to be about. I wanted it to be about cards that are so rare and/or old that even the most passionate basketball fans and card collectors haven’t even heard the name.
I’m talking about hidden gems that some, including myself, never even knew existed. And that’s exactly how I felt when I learned about this 1948 Bowman #69 George Mikan card. A card that is considered by so many collectors to be the holy grail, which is a term used quite often in the world of card collecting.
If you’ve never heard of George Mikan, I think you’ll be intrigued to know more about him and how his card became such a hot commodity for collectors. It’s also worth a pretty penny according to numerous sources, but again, this series is about more than the price tag. It’s about the history as well.
As usual, we’ll get to know George Mikan a little better first and then we’ll dive into the card and what makes it special.
Have you ever wondered where the whole goaltending rule came from in both the NCAA and NBA? I know it seems like such an obvious thing given the height of the players and the net, but did ever wonder the who, where, when of it? Well, I have, and after looking through the history of this card, I finally got the answer. George Mikan, who stood 6’10, was a driving force in the NCAA’s, and eventually the NBA’s, decision to outlaw goaltending in games. Imagine that. Better yet, imagine that in the early/mid-1940s. It may not seem like such a big deal today, but it was back then.
Mikan played his college ball at DePaul University, where he stood out as a powerful, aggressive player with a knack for both scoring and stopping points. His dominance and height caught the attention of the pros, which at the time was known as the NBL ( National Basketball League). Yes, this is before the NBA. In 1946, Mikan was drafted by the Chicago American Gears, a ball club that was at that time part of the NBL.
In his first year as a Gear, he averaged 16.5 points per game and helped the team reach the World Basketball Tournament championship, which they won. Mikan earned the MVP award for his performance. It seemed that the Gears had found their star player who would lead them to glory for years to come. However, fate had a different plan.
The owner of the Gears decided that he was going to start a league of his own called the Professional Basketball League of America. The league only lasted about a month or so until it finally crumbled after just a few games were played. Players from that failed league were then considered free agents who could be signed by one of the 11 NBL teams. One of those teams was the Minneapolis Lakers (Now the LA Lakers), who scooped Mikan up right away.
The 6’10 star center would spend the remainder of his career with the Lakers, where he earned more accolades and awards for his play. Another championship, rebound leader, All-Star game MVP, scoring champion, and the list goes on. He would even see the merger between the BAA and NBL, which was the birth of the NBA. So, George Mikan certainly saw a lot from way up there.
Mikan played 10 years as a pro, finally hanging it up in 1956. From there he would run for Congress, become a coach, owner, and was named one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA. He was even inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame. Today, he is still known as Mr. Basketball.
Now for the card that solidifies the legacy. It’s a 1948 Bowman #69 that shows the 6’10 giant George Mikan driving with the ball as he wears his legendary face of intensity. Take a look:
As you can see, this card isn’t shaped like all other cards. In fact, it looks to be more square than rectangular. Bowman cards are also notorious for having off-center images with some weathering around the edges. And to make them even more unique, some have been found to be hand-cut as well. All of these tiny imperfections add to the value/rarity of this particular, which PSA finds to be worth around $325,000 for one that is graded MT 9 (mint condition). Not bad for anyone who might have one hiding in their attic, basement, or shed.
Well, another card in the books. Next time I’ll shoot (or swing rather) for a baseball card since we haven’t had one of those in a while. As always, let me know what you think of this card and if you have suggestions for cards that I should cover in the future. I really love this series and thank you for joining me in it.
Also, a quick reminder, don’t forget to check out our Sports Card Breaking/Team Sorting Mats before you bounce. If you’re a regular breaker/streamer, I strongly recommend you snag one, if you haven’t already.
Until we meet again,
Vince The Prince