It’s a sad day as former Sixers and Indiana Pacers great George McGinnis passed away at 73, the NBA announced early Thursday morning. After suffering from a cardiac arrest last week, McGinnis succumbed to complications.
McGinnis is most well-known as a legendary figure in the Indiana basketball community. He led his high school team at Indianapolis Washington High School to an undefeated record in 1969 before being named Indiana Mr. Basketball that same year. He led the Big 10 in scoring and rebounding his sole season playing for Indiana University. And, of course, he went on to become a Hall of Fame player in the NBA.
Beginning his professional basketball career in the ABA, George McGinnis was integral to the Pacers winning back-to-back championships in his first two seasons. He would play a total of four seasons in the NBA and would also go on to be named the ABA’s co-MVP alongside future Sixers star Julius Erving for the 1974-75 season.
Having been drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 22nd pick in the 1973 NBA draft, McGinnis’ journey to actually playing for the Sixers was complicated, to say the least, but come the 1975-76 NBA season, he found his first NBA home in Philadelphia, and was even joined by his former co-MVP a year later.
In his first season with the Sixers, McGinnis would lead the team to a record of 46-36 alongside Doug Collins and Fred Carter and would even be named an All-Star. While the team ultimately came up short in the first round against the Buffalo Braves, there was clear excitement brewing in Philadelphia behind their new star power forward.
Over three seasons, McGinnis averaged 21.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.1 steals per game and would help lead the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 1977, where they would ultimately come up short against the Portland Trail Blazers.
In poetic fashion, McGinnis would spend the final stop of his career in Indiana with the Pacers after being traded from Denver for a young Alex English. He would go on to have his number retired by the Indiana Pacers, becoming one of only four players to be honored in such a way by the team.
After his passing, the Sixers released a statement celebrating what he meant to not only the Sixers organization but the ABA and NBA as well.
In their press release, the NBA also released a statement from the Simon Family and Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which said:
“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.”
George McGinnis was beloved by family, friends, teammates, and fans alike, and there will never be another like him. He will be sorely missed by all those he touched in his life.