Former Lakers great Vern Mikkelsen passed away at the age of 85 on Thursday, the team confirmed.
Mikkelsen was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 (see video above) after a 10-year NBA career with the Lakers.
"Vern was one of the first in a long line of great Lakers players, and a key link to our franchise’s early years in Minnesota," said Lakers President Jeanie Buss in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to the Lakers and our legacy, and we send our condolences and best wishes to his family.”
A prostate cancer survivor of 11 years, Mikkelsen was surrounded by family at home in Wayzata, Minn., when he died.
Mikkelsen was a six-time All-Star and four-time champion with the Lakers (1950 and 1952-54). The 6-foot-7 power forward was drafted in 1949 as the territorial pick of the Minneapolis Lakers.
A noted defender for the championship Lakers, Mikkelsen's name can be seen in the rafters at Staples Center on a banner honoring George Mikan, Slater Martin, Jim Pollard, Clyde Lovellette, Coach John Kundla and Mikkelsen.
Mikkelsen called the banner-raising ceremony in 2002, "a total treasure for us and the greatest time for me."
The Minnesota Timberwolves paid their respects on Friday, via Twitter.
The Timberwolves organization is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Minneapolis Laker and NBA Hall of Famer Vern Mikkelsen.— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) November 22, 2013
During his playing days at Hamline Univ. and the Lakers, Vern was a dominant force on the court and one of the game's great power forwards.— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) November 22, 2013
Vern was a great friend to our organization and we offer our condolences to his family.— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) November 22, 2013
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