“Vern Mikkelsen was the workhorse. He was the guy that took the tough defensive player, rebounded well, was the hard body under the basket. He reminded me of what Dennis Rodman was to the Bulls, what Rodman was to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The guy who did the work, the offensive rebounding.”
—Red Kerr, 12-year NBA player who later was a color commentator for the Chicago Bulls. Quote from the book “Lakers Glory.”
Vern Mikkelsen, the Hall of Fame forward who formed a formidable frontcourt with George Mikan for the four-time champion Minneapolis Lakers, has passed away at the age of 85.
Mikkelsen’s son confirmed this to the Pioneer Press in Minneapolis.
“He passed away peacefully,” Mikkelsen’s son, John, said Friday. “He was a prostate cancer survivor of 11 years, then the cancer started moving three, four months ago.
“He lived a full live right to the end. There’s no tragedy here, but a lot of joy. He was my best friend.”
Born Arild Verner Agerskov Mikkelsen in Fresno, California, he was raised and went to high school and college in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Lakers picked him up in 1949 as a territorial selection.
In his 10-year NBA career he averaged 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds a game as part of the best front line in basketball at the time, paired with the great George Mikan. Mikkelsen was a six-time NBA All-Star, four times named to the All-NBA second team, and he won four rings as part of those Lakers teams.
To give you an idea of his style of play, he used to hold the NBA record for most games fouled out of. You would have loved to have a guy like him on your team.
Our thoughts are with the Mikkelsen family and our condolences for their loss.