Basketball Hall of Famer, Former Lakers Coach John Kundla Dies at 101

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2017

FILE - In this April 25, 1952, file photo, Minneapolis Lakers coach John Kundla, top, is hoisted up by players and carried to their dressing room after beating the New York Knickerbockers 82-65 to win their fourth NBA basketball championship in five years. The Lakers left Minneapolis for Los Angeles and concerns are now rising that the Minnesota Vikings will leave if the state fails to build a new stadium. (AP Photo, File)
ANONYMOUS/Associated Press

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach John Kundla died Sunday at 101 years old, according to Joel Rippel of the Star Tribune.

Kundla was head coach of the Minneapolis Lakers from their first season in 1948 until 1959. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995, and prior to his death, he was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major sports.

The Lakers won NBL and BAA championships before the NBA officially formed in 1949-50, which ended once again with a Minneapolis championship. Kundla won four NBA titles in his first five seasons with the league thanks to superstar George Mikan.

"I really appreciated John's ability to communicate," former player Whitey Skoog said of Kundla, per Rippel. "He was never negative about a player's mistakes. He worked to find a way for the player to improve. He never criticized a player in the press and gave the players the credit for the Lakers' success."

He posted a 379-286 record in 10 NBA seasons and coached all but one of the franchise's years in Minneapolis before it moved to Los Angeles.

After leaving the Lakers, Kundla stayed local and became the head coach of his alma mater at the University of Minnesota. In nine seasons, he led the Golden Gophers to a 110-105 record.

He is survived by four sons, two daughters and six grandchildren.


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