George McGinnis, the legendary Indiana Pacers player and 1969 Indiana Mr. Basketball, died early on Thursday morning. He went on to have a successful professional career that included being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. He was seventy-three.
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McGinnis passed away due to complications following a heart arrest he had at his house the previous week. After he was brought to Community North Hospital, friends, family, and former teammates held a support vigil for him until his departure.
As a sophomore at Indiana University, McGinnis led the Big Ten in scoring and rebounds. He then helped lead the Pacers to two of their three American Basketball Association titles. McGinnis was a standout player for an undefeated Indianapolis Washington High School team that won the 1969 state championship.
In the 1974–75 season, he shared the title of ABA’s second-most valuable player alongside Julius Erving. After that, McGinnis joined the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers, where he was selected twice for the All-Star team. His 11-year professional career came to an end in 1982 when he returned to the Indiana Pacers after playing for the Denver Nuggets.
His No. 30 Pacers jersey has been retired, making him one of four Pacers (the other three being Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, and Reggie Miller). In 2017, he was admitted to the Naismith Hall of Fame.
At 6 feet 8 inches and 235 pounds, McGinnis personified the “power” forward role. He was also an excellent teammate, rebounder, and floor leader.
For instance, he averaged 32.3 points, 15.9 rebounds, and 8.2 assists during the 1975 ABA playoffs.
He was most remembered for his 53-point, 30-point rebounding performance in the Indiana All-Stars’ triumph over Kentucky in Louisville’s Freedom Hall, where he was crowned 1969 Mr. Basketball.
Despite suffering from significant back pain in his latter years, McGinnis was a kind, personable, and fiercely devoted friend, former teammate, and Pacers coach Bobby “Slick” Leonard. In addition, he was a prosperous businessman who founded and oversaw GM Supply, a wholesale industrial supply company.
George McGinnis, the son of Willie and Burnie McGinnis, wed Lynda, his high school sweetheart, who died in 2019. Bonnie, his sister, is his surviving sibling.
The Simon Family and Pacers Sports & Entertainment released the following statement:
“From his all-state high school days to his time as an IU All-American and, of course, to his legendary ABA championship runs with the Pacers, George McGinnis shaped so many of the fondest basketball memories for generations of Hoosiers. He was the very definition of an Indiana basketball legend, a champion, and Hall of Fame athlete. But he was more than that. George was family. A passionate advocate for his fellow ABA players and a present, smiling face around the franchise, George has been as synonymous with our Pacers franchise as anyone. He will be greatly missed, and all of us at Pacers Sports & Entertainment will keep George and his family in our prayers.”
A celebration of life will be held in Gainbridge Fieldhouse following the first of the year, but the burial will be private. Information will be released.