McGinnis Knew a Thing or Two About Triple-Doubles
George McGinnis isn’t the type to gloat. If he were, he would be rolling his eyes at all the fuss made over Paul George’s triple-double in the Pacers’ playoff victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
Hey, what’s the big deal about someone else’s first postseason triple-double when you had six of your own, five in one year?
George had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in leading the Pacers’ 107-90 victory over the Hawks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Those are impressive numbers, particularly for a 22-year-old in his third season in the NBA. But they’re practically a journeyman’s numbers compared to those McGinnis put up in the days of wide-open offenses in the ABA.
McGinnis, whose No. 30 jersey is among those retired by the franchise, reached the peak of his career in the 1974-75 season. He was 24 years old at the time, and playing his fourth professional season after leaving Indiana University following his sophomore season. Most of the core group that had won three ABA titles had been broken up after the previous season, leaving McGinnis behind to carry a young team that wound up reaching the final round of the playoffs.
McGinnis averaged 32.3 points, 15.9 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 6.2 turnovers in 18 playoff games in 1975, as the Pacers defeated both San Antonio and Denver 4-2, before losing to Kentucky 4-1. He had five of his triple-doubles against the Spurs and Nuggets. Those games included two quadruple-doubles of a less-desirable variety, as he twice reached double figures in turnovers.
Here’s the breakdown:
1. 42 points, 24 rebounds, nine assists and 10 turnovers on April 10, a 113-103 win over San Antonio.
2. 51 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists on April 12 in a 110-109 loss to San Antonio.
3. 32 points, 23 rebounds, 14 assists and 11 turnovers on April 16 in a 115-100 win over San Antonio.
4. 33 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists on April 24 in a 122-118 win over Denver.
5. 26 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 12 turnovers on April 30 in a 104-99 loss to Denver.
“Oh, my God,” McGinnis said Tuesday when the numbers were read to him over the telephone. “If I could have gotten rid of the turnovers I would have been something.
“I was a turnover king.”
To say the least, the offense ran through McGinnis that season. He and rookie forward Billy Knight handled the ball much of the time, especially against teams with quick guards, and frequently were allowed to initiate the offense. McGinnis turned in the finest single season in franchise history, leading the team in scoring (29.8), rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers in the regular season.
McGinnis had one other triple-double in his ABA playoff career, in 1974, when he had 29 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in a game against Utah.
The only other Pacer to compile an ABA playoff triple-double was Roger Brown, who had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the final game of the team’s inaugural season, when it was eliminated by Pittsburgh in a first-round playoff series.
McGinnis left the Pacers following the 1975 playoffs to sign with Philadelphia of the NBA. He was a two-time All-Star there, and also played in Denver before he was traded back to the Pacers during the 1979-80 season. He retired after being released in training camp in 1982.
The memory of his peak, however, remains vivid to those who saw it.
“He was outta sight in that series,” said Bob “Slick” Leonard, who coached McGinnis in the ABA.
“No question about it, he was a talent. That’s as good as you can play. He put the team right on his back.”