Hall of Fame forerunner Vern Mikkelsen died on Thursday at his home in Wayzata, Minnesota. Mikkelsen played with the Lakers for 10 years, where he was usually sent to guard the opposition’s best shooter. He played on Laker teams that won NBA championships in 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954.
Even though Mikkelsen wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame until 36 after he retired, he wasn’t bothered by the delay. The New York Times reports that he stated in an interview, “We are a laid-back people in Minnesota … so I never let myself get worked up about not getting in. Still, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating.”
Fans took to Twitter to mourn Mikkelsen’s death, writing:
One of my favorite people in basketball (Minneapolis Lakers)Vern Mikkelsen passed away yesterday… My best to his family….RIP Vern.
— Chris Wright (@WolvesPrez) November 23, 2013
RIP Vern Mikkelsen, a great power forward before we knew what one was. Mikan, Pollard and Mikkelsen were the first “modern” front line.
— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) November 23, 2013
The #Twolves will have a pregame moment of silence to recognize the accomplishments of Vern Mikkelsen, former Mpls Laker who passed away.
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) November 22, 2013
Vern Mikkelsen is survived by two sons, Tom and John, as well as two grandchildren. His wife, Jean, passed away in 2002.