George McGinnis

Photo: IU Archives

George McGinnis Biography

George McGinnis is a former basketball player that played for the Hoosiers for his sophomore year during the 1970-1971 college basketball season. He was drafted in the second round of the 1973 NBA draft as the 22nd pick overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and was traded immediately to the Indian. McGinnis would spent a total of 11 years in the professional league on the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Denver Nuggets. Notable accomplishments include 1969 Mr. Basketball USA, 1971 All-Big Ten and All-American, two-time ABA champion (1972, 1973), and three-time NBA All-Star (1976, 1977, 1979).

  • Name: George F. McGinnis
  • Nicknames: Big Mac, Baby Bull, McGinnis the Magnificent, Big George, Mount George
  • Position: Power Forward / Center
  • Nationality: USA
  • Age: 69 years old
  • Birthday: August 12th, 1950
  • Birthplace: Harpersville, Alabama
  • Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • High School: Washington High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • Height: 6’8″ (203 cm)
  • Weight: 235 lb (107 kg)
  • Seasons: 1 (1970-1971)
  • Jersey: #30
  • NBA Draft: 1973 / Second Round / 22nd Overall Pick (Philadelphia 76ers)

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Awards and Accolades

  • Mr. Basketball USA (1969)
  • Mr. Basketball Indiana (1969)
  • NCAA All-American (Third Team) (1971)
  • All-Big Ten (1971)
  • ABA All-Time Team
  • ABA All-Rookie First Team (1972)
  • ABA Rookie of the Year (1972)
  • All-ABA Second Team (1973)
  • ABA Champion (1972, 1973)
  • ABA Playoffs Most Valuable Player (1973)
  • All-ABA First Team (1974, 1975)
  • ABA All-Star (1973, 1974, 1975)
  • ABA Most Valuable Player (1975)
  • All-NBA First Team (1976)
  • All-NBA Second Team (1977)
  • NBA All-Star (1976, 1977, 1979)
  • Naismith Hall of Fame (2017 Inducted)

George McGinnis Seasons with the Hoosiers

1969-1970 Indiana Basketball Season
Jerry Oliver (1st Season)
7–17 (3–11 Big Ten)
10th Place Big Ten

1970-1971 Indiana Basketball Season
Lou Watson (5th Season)
17–7 (9–5 Big Ten)
4th Place Big Ten

George McGinnis Career Statistics at Indiana University

Season G MP FG FGA FG% FT FTA FT% TRB AST PF PTS
1970-1971 24 830 283 615 0.46 153 249 0.614 352 66 96 719
Career 24 830 283 615 0.46 153 249 0.614 352 66 96 719

George McGinnis High School Career (Washington High School) and Recruiting Profile

George McGinnis attended Washington High School located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Throughout his career in high school, McGinnis gained significant notoriety and became one of the most recognizable high school basketball players in the nation by the time he was a senior.

McGinnis was a 6-foot-4 freshman in high school. He was recruited early on by the football coach at Washington High School, which eventually led him to bulk up to 235 pounds. McGinnis gained a total of 50 pounds since he first stepped foot in to Washington High School. Many of his nicknames were earned during his football playing days.

At Washington High School, he played with future Indiana University teammate Steve Downing.

During George McGinnis’s senior year of high school, he led the Washington Continentals to go an impressive 31-0 in 1969, winning the Indiana HSAA state championship. In the final four games, George McGinnis scored 148 points, setting an Indiana state tournament record.

In more recent speech where George McGinnis presented the 2017 IndyStar Mr. Basketball trophy, George McGinnis reflected on his experience winning the Indiana state title.

It was 48 years ago that I played on the state championship team, and that has been — and still is — the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my entire life.

George McGinnis, 2017 IndyStar Mr. Basketball Presentation
Photo: IndyStar

In the Indiana-versus-Kentucky All-Stars game, George McGinnis currently owns the record for the best performance in the history of the event. In just a 32-minute high school game, George McGinnis scored 53 points and grabbed 31 rebounds.

George McGinnis Indiana University Career

George McGinnis played just a single season at Indiana University under head coach Lou Watson. With the freshman ineligibility rule, McGinnis did not play in the 1969-1970 campaign, despite being enrolled at Indiana University at the time.

Photo: IU Archives

McGinnis brought the same level of domination from high school to the collegiate ranks. In his 24-game Hoosier career, McGinnis averaged nearly 35 minutes per game. On field goals, McGinnis shot at a rate of 46% and he shot 61.4% on free throws. McGinnis finished his single season with the Hoosiers with a total of 719 points and 352 rebounds, which averages to be 29.9 points and 14.7 rebounds per contest.

Photo: IU Archives

In George McGinnis’s third game ever as a Hoosier, he scored a total of 38 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Adolph Rupp’s University of Kentucky team. Despite his incredible stat-line, the savior of the game was teammate John Ritter, who shot a 60-foot shot to break an 80-80 tie game.

The rooftop “exploded” as the crowd erupted in cheers. However, ultimately the shot was called off as George McGinnis had called a timeout just seconds before the shot, thus nullifying the game-winning “Hail Mary.” The Hoosiers would then lose to the Wildcats with a final score of 95-93 in overtime.

Indiana finished with a final record of 17-7 (9-5 in the Big Ten), which unfortunately did not qualify the team for any post-season participation. McGinnis elected to play in the professional ranks after just a single season with the Hoosiers and joined the Indiana Pacers in 1971.

Photo: IU Archives

Head coach Bob Knight would shortly take over the Indiana University program and George McGinnis would not end up crossing paths with the legendary Indiana head coach. Bob Knight joked frequently about George McGinnis.

In an article from Kark Montieth from the Pacers website, he writes the following:

McGinnis ran the table within the Indiana borders, and did it in a big way. Had he stayed at Indiana University beyond his sophomore season and played out his college career for Bob Knight, he likely would have won an NCAA championship to go with his high school and ABA titles. Knight, who took over at IU shortly after McGinnis decided to leave, always joked with McGinnis that he would have made even more money as a pro if he had stayed, because Knight would have made him play defense.

Mark Montieth, Pacers.com

George McGinnis Career after Indiana University

When George McGinnis decided to play for the Pacers, the team was an American Basketball Association team (ABA) and had not formally joined the NBA. The Pacers were coached by none other than Bobby “Slick” Leonard, another former Indiana University superstar. George McGinnis and Bobby Leonard would go on to have a long-lasting friendship.

Photo: Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports

George McGinnis had tremendous success with the ABA Pacers. He would spend the years between 1971 and 1975 with the Pacres where he won two ABA titles with that team in 1972 and 1973. In the 1973 ABA playoffs, he was named MVP averaging 23.9 points and 12.3 rebounds per game during the post-season.

Photo: Frank Fisse / IndyStar

In McGinnis continued to be one of the key center pieces for the Pacers during this era. During his last and final season with the Pacers as an ABA team (he would later rejoin the Pacers after they merged into the NBA), McGinnis had his best season statistically speaking averaging nearly 30 points a game during the regular seasons. He finished the post-season with averages of 32.3 points, 15.9 rebounds, and 8.2 assists. The Pacers would eventually lose to Kentucky in the 1975 ABA finals.

George McGinnis in the 1973 NBA Draft; Drama with the New York Knicks

McGinnis was selected in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers as the 22nd overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft. The 76ers retained the draft rights for George McGinnis; however, McGinnis would eventually remain in Indianapolis for the time being where he played two additional seasons in the ABA.

After the 1973-1974 season, McGinnis had a brief interest in joining the NBA; however he began expressing interest to play for the New York Knicks. Despite Philadelphia allowing the New York Knicks 30 days in an attempt to court McGinnis away from Indianapolis, McGinnis decided to stay in the Hoosier state.

The season later, McGinnis again began expressing interest to play in the NBA; however, the 76ers were less inclined to help out an opposing east coast NBA team this time around. Despite warning the New York Knicks to not provide an offer, the Knicks offered George McGinnis a 6-year / $3.1 million deal. The owner of the 76ers then accused the Knicks of violating the NBA constitution and demanded that the league rescind his contract.

Larry O’Brien, commissioner of the NBA at the time, reviewed the case and ruled the contract invalid. The New York Knicks had to forfeit their 1976 first round pick as a result and had to pay the 76ers for the legal fees associated with the case.

Photo: NBAE / Getty Images

After the ordeal, George McGinnis flew to the city of brotherly love where he teamed up with ABA star Julius Erving. By 1976, George McGinnis elevated from being an ABA All-Star to an NBA All-Star, and by 1977 he helped lead the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals, where they unfortunately lost to the Portland Trailblazers in a 4 to 2 series.

George McGinnis finished his time in Philadelphia with averages of 21.6 points per game, 11.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.

Photo: AP File

Denver Nuggets, Back to the Pacers, and Retirement

In 1978, George McGinnis was traded to the Denver Nuggets and after a year’s gap in not being named an NBA All-Star, he was selected as part of the 1979 NBA All-Star cast. McGinnis had just a two-year stop in Denver before being re-acquired by the Indiana Pacers who were now also a part of the NBA after the 1976 four-team merger.

The Pacers, who were interested in boosting a declining attendance, traded a promising young star named Alex English for George McGinnis. Although McGinnis added productive minutes for the Pacers, it was clear the McGinnis was on the decline of his career and he was only able to average 9.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game during his return tour with the Pacers. English, on the other hand, would become an 8-time NBA All-Star with the Denver Nuggets.

After the 1981-1982 season where McGinnis averaged just 4.7 points per game despite playing in 76 total games, George McGinnis decided to retire as a player from the NBA and begin a life as a business man, commentator, and philanthropist.

Photo: NBAE / GettyImages

Retired Number 30 Jerseys (Indiana Pacers)

In 1985, George McGinnis had his #30 jersey retired by the Indiana Pacers organization. He joined two other players that had retired jerseys during that ceremony. Mel Daniels (#34) and Roger Brown (#35) also had their jerseys retired by the Pacers.

Since then, only two other individuals have had retired numbers for the Indiana Pacers, including Bobby Leonard (#529) in 1996 and Reggie Miller (#31) in 2006.

Photo: Dina-Roberts Wakulczyk

2017 Naismith Hall of Fame Induction

In 2017, George McGinnis was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. McGinnis was part of an 11-person class that included Zack Clayton, Nikos Galis, Mannie Jackson, Tom Jernstedt, Jerry Krause, Rebecca Lobo, Tracy McGrady, Muffet McGraw and Bill Self.

His induction had some uncertainty in 2015, when a special Hall of Fame committee was responsible for electing legendary American Basketball Association players was disbanded. The committee began in 2011 and would no longer continue after 2015 after fulfilling its original intention.

For George McGinnis, he was able to still reach the Naismith Hall of Fame through his accomplishments at the high school level, ABA, and ultimately in the NBA.

In his induction speech, George McGinnis referred to the great Oscar Robertson, another fellow Indiana high school legend. McGinnis would end up surpassing many of the statistics, records, and other benchmarks set by the “Big O.” He credited Oscar Robertson as one of his very first basketball inspirations.

Photo: NBAE / GettyImages

Professional Playing Career Summary

  • 1971-1975 Indiana Pacers (ABA)
  • 1975-1978 Philadelphia 76ers
  • 1978-1979 Denver Nuggets
  • 1979-1982 Indiana Pacers (NBA)

The Infamous Shooting Form

One of the most notable parts of George McGinnis’s overall basketball repertoire included his unusual shooting form when taking a jump shot. McGinnis preferred to use a single hand as he towered over his defenders. At the height of his jump, the shot was more of a push, rather than a true shot. Many basketball coaches and purists were uncomfortable with how the shot looked on the floor.

He only developed this shooting form after playing in the professional leagues. George has stated that he used this shot as a means to get around taller and more athletic players.

His then-head coach Larry Brown called his shot a “trashy jumper” in reference to the shot that deviated from all fundamental teaching of what the shot should look like.

Life after retiring as a player

Photo: IndianaHistory.org

After George McGinnis retired as a player in 1982 with the Indiana Pacers, George McGinnis had a number of additional professional positions including becoming a businessman, television commentator, community leader, and a well-known philanthropist.

George McGinnis Highlights, Videos, and Speeches


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Contributor: Rob Jiang