Photo courtesy of the NBA
Friday afternoon, one of Indiana's basketball legends died.
Mel Daniels, perhaps the greatest Indiana Pacer of all time, passed away of an apparent heart issue.
Daniels was a constant figure in professional basketball in Indianapolis since the late 1960's and early 1970's when he helped lead the Indiana Pacers to three ABA Championships. Daniels involvement with the club didn't just stop with the end of his playing time in Indiana (he played for two other teams after the Pacers). After assisting in college at Indiana State, he rejoined the Pacers as Director of Player Personnel. He was a respected and valued member of the community and organization. He retired in 2009, but he continued to attend games and advise players and management alike. In fact, he was apparently at the stadium just Thursday night.
I was too young to remember seeing Daniels play, but, when you grow up in Indiana as a basketball fan, you honor those legends of the past and you hear their stories. When I was a young Pacers fan, the past stories were much better than those of the present. Of course, that changed when I went to college and the Pacers started seeing real NBA success.
Mel Daniels saw it all and everything in between. He saw all the highs and all the lows. He even served as interim coach for two games in 1988 after Jack Ramsay suddenly resigned.
Mel Daniels is gone at the age of 71.