This Friday, September 7th, ABA legend and former Indiana Pacer Mel Daniels, will finally be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Daniels, 68, will enter the Hall of Fame alongside another Indiana Pacers legend, Reggie Miller. Daniels will be the fifth ABA player inducted into the Hall of Fame.
This honor is a well-deserved and long-overdue accolade for Daniels, whose accomplishments on the court were numerous. Daniels entered the ABA in 1968, and was named Rookie of the Year for the Pacers. In four consecutive seasons, from 1968 to 1971, Daniels was named to the All-ABA First Team. Two of those years, in 1969 and 1971, Daniels was named as MVP of the ABA.
Daniels was a main part of three ABA Championships for the Indiana Pacers, during a span where the Pacers won three titles in four years. His jersey, along with Millers and teammate George McGinnis, is one of only four players’ numbers ever to be retired by the Indiana Pacers franchise. After he retired in 1976, Daniels even went on to coach the Pacers for one season. He has spent over 20 years as a part of the Pacers’ franchise front office, serving as the Director of Player Personnel until 2009.
If it wasn’t for Mel Daniels, there is a good chance that the Indiana Pacers franchise would have disappeared along with the ABA itself. It took over thirty-five years, but his accomplishments as a player and a champion of a long defunct league, are finally being honored. Mel Daniels should rightfully enjoy this, because he earned it.