The Indiana Pacers lost one of the faces of their storied franchise Friday when Hall of Fame center Mel Daniels passed away in Sheridan, Ind.
He was 71, and is survived by his wife, CeCe, and family.
A key player on three American Basketball Association championship teams, Daniels was still a visible presence at Pacers games. His jersey was retired on Nov. 2, 1985, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
“I join our extended Pacers family in offering my sincerest condolences to CeCe and Mel’s family,” Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner @Herb Simon said in a statement released by the team. “We will miss him greatly, but when we look at that Hall of Fame banner in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, we will be forever reminded of what he meant to this franchise.”
Daniels was twice named the ABA’s MVP (1969, 1971). He played six seasons with the Pacers, averaging 19.4 points and 16.0 rebounds per game.
A four-time All-ABA selection, Daniels was named to the First Team in 1969, 1970 and 1971, and was a Second Team pick in 1973. He also was named the ABA All-Star Game MVP in 1971 and was the ABA’s first Rookie of the Year in 1968 while playing with Minnesota. He is the Pacers’ all-time leading rebounder in the ABA (7,643) and he holds the Pacers’ ABA record for rebounds in a single season (1,475 in 1970-71).
He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico.
After his playing career, he joined the basketball staff of the Pacers. He also was an avid horse enthusiast.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.