George McGinnis: Unsung Legend of the ’70s NBA Golden Age

Petter vieve

George McGinnis

When we think about the golden era of basketball in the 1970s, names like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar immediately come to mind. However, there is one name that often gets overlooked but deserves just as much recognition – George McGinnis. This charismatic powerhouse was a force to be reckoned with on the court, yet his contributions to the game have been largely forgotten over time.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the remarkable career of George McGinnis – from his humble beginnings in Indiana to his dominant reign in both the ABA and NBA. We’ll shed light on his achievements and highlight why he should be remembered as one of basketball’s unsung legends. So sit back and let’s embark on a journey through hoops history!

Early life and basketball career before the NBA

Born on August 12, 1950, in Indianapolis, Indiana, George McGinnis grew up immersed in basketball culture. From a young age, he displayed an exceptional talent for the sport that would later propel him to greatness.

McGinnis attended Washington High School where he quickly became a star player. His combination of size, strength, and agility made him nearly unstoppable on the court. He led his high school team to two state championships and earned All-State honors multiple times.

After graduating from high school in 1969, McGinnis continued his basketball journey at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Despite not playing for a major college program like many of his peers, McGinnis stood out with his exceptional skills and dominance on both ends of the court.

His performances caught the attention of professional scouts. In 1971, McGinnis declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft but ultimately went undrafted. Undeterred by this setback, he joined the American Basketball Association (ABA) instead.

In 1971-72 season with the ABA’s Indiana Pacers is where McGinnis truly began to shine. He averaged an impressive double-double of over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game during his rookie year while leading the Pacers to their first-ever championship victory.

Over six seasons with the Pacers from 1971 to 1975 and then again from 1980 to 1982 after returning from a stint in Philadelphia’s NBA team; George proved himself as one of ABA’s biggest stars. With three ABA All-Star selections under his belt and two more championships won alongside fellow superstar Mel Daniels before joining Julius Erving-led Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers; The Big Mac was indeed making waves throughout his career.

Joining the ABA’s Indiana Pacers and leading them to multiple championships

Joining the ABA’s Indiana Pacers was a turning point in George McGinnis’ career. He brought his exceptional skills and leadership to the team, propelling them to multiple championships. McGinnis quickly became a force to be reckoned with on the court.

With his imposing stature and versatile playing style, McGinnis dominated both ends of the floor. His scoring ability was unmatched, as he effortlessly put up points from anywhere on the court. Defensively, he used his size and agility to disrupt opponents and secure rebounds.

But it wasn’t just individual brilliance that led to success for the Pacers under McGinnis’ guidance. He also had an innate ability to elevate his teammates’ performances, inspiring them to reach new heights. The team chemistry was undeniable, resulting in seamless teamwork and ultimately championship titles.

McGinnis’ impact extended beyond just winning championships. His presence brought attention and credibility to the ABA as a league, helping solidify its position in basketball history. Joining forces with fellow legends like Mel Daniels further enhanced this legacy.

The era of George McGinnis and the Indiana Pacers may not always receive the recognition it deserves when discussing NBA greats of that time period. However, their accomplishments speak volumes about their talent and contributions to basketball’s golden age.

Their success paved the way for future generations of players who would go on to shape basketball into what it is today: a global phenomenon adored by millions around the world.

Transition to the NBA and success with the Philadelphia 76ers

After establishing himself as one of the most dominant players in the American Basketball Association (ABA), George McGinnis made a leap to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1975. Joining forces with fellow superstar Julius Erving, McGinnis quickly found success with the Philadelphia 76ers.

McGinnis brought his unique blend of size, skill, and versatility to the Sixers, becoming an integral part of their lineup. Standing at six feet eight inches tall and weighing over 240 pounds, he was virtually unstoppable on offense. With his ability to score from inside and outside and grab rebounds with authority, McGinnis posed a constant threat to opposing teams.

Teaming up with Erving, McGinnis formed a formidable duo that struck fear into opponents’ hearts. Their chemistry on the court was undeniable as they effortlessly fed off each other’s strengths. The dynamic tandem led the Sixers deep into playoff runs during their time together.

Although overshadowed by some of his contemporaries like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Larry Bird when it comes to recognition, there is no denying that George McGinnis left an indelible mark on NBA history. His tenacity on both ends of the floor inspired generations of players who emulated his playing style.

In retrospect, it’s clear that without McGinnis’ contributions during his stint with the Philadelphia 76ers, they would not have enjoyed such sustained success during that era. He may not have received all-star appearances or MVP awards like some others did in those years but make no mistake; he was an essential piece of that championship puzzle for Philly.

Legacy and impact on the game of basketball

George McGinnis left an indelible mark on the game of basketball during his career in the 1970s. His unique style of play, combining power and finesse, revolutionized the forward position and paved the way for future generations of players.

McGinnis was known for his incredible scoring ability, averaging over 20 points per game throughout his career. He possessed a deadly mid-range jump shot and could finish at the rim with authority. Defenders had trouble containing him due to his strength and agility.

But it wasn’t just his scoring that made McGinnis legendary; he was also a dominant rebounder. Standing at 6’8″, he used every inch of his frame to outmuscle opponents on the boards. His tenacity and determination made him one of the best rebounders of his era.

Offensively gifted, McGinnis was equally impressive on defense. He had quick hands, which allowed him to steal passes and disrupt opposing offenses. His size and athleticism enabled him to guard multiple positions effectively.

Beyond individual accolades, McGinnis’s impact extended to team success as well. He led both ABA’s Indiana Pacers and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers deep into playoffs, including championships with each team. With his versatility, leadership skills, and clutch performances in big moments, he elevated those around him.

Although not always recognized alongside other ’70s legends like Julius Erving or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George McGinnis played an integral role in shaping modern basketball as we know it today. Many current NBA stars credit him as an inspiration for their own playing styles.

In conclusion: George McGinnis may be an unsung hero compared to some of his contemporaries but make no mistake -his legacy is firmly imprinted in basketball history books forever!

Recognition and honors received throughout his career

Recognition and honors were plentiful throughout George McGinnis’ illustrious basketball career. His exceptional talent and contributions to the game did not go unnoticed by fans, fellow players, and critics alike.

In his early years in the ABA with the Indiana Pacers, McGinnis quickly made a name for himself as one of the premier players in the league. He was named an All-Star three times during his tenure with the Pacers and helped lead them to back-to-back championships in 1972 and 1973.

After transitioning to the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, McGinnis continued to excel on the court. He earned two NBA All-Star selections and played a crucial role in helping guide his team deep into playoff runs. His scoring prowess, rebounding ability, and overall skill set garnered him respect from opponents as well as admiration from fans.

McGinnis’ impact on the game was further recognized through various accolades. He was named an All-NBA Second Team selection twice during his career, solidifying his status as one of the best forwards of his era. Additionally, he was honored with induction into both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame.

While perhaps not as widely celebrated or remembered today compared to some other legends of that era, George McGinnis left an indelible mark on basketball history. His skills on both ends of the court were undeniable, earning him recognition among peers who appreciated his unique talents.

Comparison to other legends of the ’70s NBA era

When discussing the legends of the ’70s NBA era, names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and Magic Johnson often dominate the conversation. However, it is important not to overlook the contributions of George McGinnis during this golden age of basketball.

While McGinnis may not have achieved the same level of fame as some of his counterparts, his impact on the game cannot be underestimated. Known for his incredible scoring ability and versatility on both ends of the court, McGinnis was a force to be reckoned with.

In terms of comparisons to other legends, one could argue that George McGinnis possessed a unique combination of size, strength, and skill that set him apart from many players in his era. Standing at 6’8″ and weighing over 230 pounds, he had an imposing presence on the court that allowed him to dominate in various positions.

McGinnis also excelled in clutch moments and was known for stepping up when it mattered most. His ability to score in crucial situations made him a valuable asset to any team he played for. Whether it was hitting game-winning shots or making key defensive plays, McGinnis consistently showcased his ability to perform under pressure.


As we reflect on the golden age of ’70s NBA basketball, it’s important to remember the unsung heroes who made significant contributions to the game. George McGinnis is undoubtedly one such legend who often goes unnoticed in discussions about that era.

From his humble beginnings in Indianapolis to his rise as a dominant force in both the ABA and NBA, McGinnis showcased immense talent and versatility on the court. His impact extended beyond individual accolades, as he consistently led his teams to success and championships.

Leave a Comment