Minneapolis Lakers legend Vern Mikkelsen has died at 85

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(Mikkelsen is No. 19 in the photo)

Former Minneapolis Lakers legend and NBA Hall of Famer Vern Mikkelsen has died at the age of 85, according to Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune.

"He passed away peacefully," Mikkelsen's son, John, said, via the Pioneer Press. "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."

Old school basketball fans and the hardcore fans that study NBA history will without a doubt remember his name.

Mikkelson, who grew up in Askov, Minnesota, received a scholarship to play basketball at Hamline University in St. Paul when he was just 16-years-old. He starred for the Pipers from 1945-48.

He was selected as a territorial pick by the Lakers in the 1949 NBA Draft and he went on to star in the NBA from 1949-59. From then on, he helped the Lakers become the NBA's first dynasty.

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward was terribly difficult to handle on the hardwood. He still holds the NBA record with 127 career disqualifications. At one point he led the NBA in disqualifications and fouls three straight seasons.

Mikkelsen, George Mikan and Jim Pollard formed one of the greatest "Big Three" players in NBA history.

The six-time NBA All-Star was voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

He was also an ironman. According to Wikipedia, Mikkelson played in 798 of 800 career games.

Reusse documented a false death report of Mikkelsen that happened four years ago. It's an enlightening story that allows basketball fans of all generations to capture what kind of man Mikkelsen was.

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