James M. "Jim" McMillian (born March 11, 1948) is a retired American professional basketball player born in Raeford, North Carolina. After starring at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, McMillian played college basketball at Columbia University. He led Columbia to a three-year mark of 63-14, and their last NCAA Tournament appearance in 1968, his sophomore year. The tourney ended with a third-place finish for Columbia in the East regional, and Columbia ended that 1967-68 season the sixth-ranked college team in the nation.
"Jimmy Mac" not only was a three-time All-American and All-Ivy Leaguer, he was All-East each year, the ECAC Sophomore of the Year, and became the first person ever to earn the Haggerty Award in each of his three varsity seasons.
He scored 1758 career points (then a record, now second) and averaged 22.9 points per game (second-best then and now). He is also second in career rebounds (743) and holds the season records for field goals in a season (253) and career (677). But despite their outstanding winning percentages, his Columbia teams managed only one Ivy League title in a period when they battled tough Princeton teams with Geoff Petrie and John Hummer and Penn teams with Dave Wohl and Corky Calhoun.
A 6'5" forward, he was drafted in the first round (13th overall pick) by the L.A. Lakers of the NBA and was also a first round pick of the N.Y. Nets of the ABA. He chose the Lakers and spent three years there, scoring 3714 points, an average of 15.3 per game. In 1972, he helped lead the Lakers to an NBA Championship, averaging 19.1 points per game in the playoffs. He was a key factor in the Lakers' record-setting 33-game win streak that season. McMillian, who was in his second season that year, replaced Elgin Baylor at forward and the team immediately launched their streak. After the retirement of Wilt Chamberlain, the Lakers needed a center and traded McMillian to the Buffalo Braves for Elmore Smith. He later played for the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers. At the end of his career he moved to Italy and played for Sinudyne Bologna for two seasons.
By Dean Hanley
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