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Mel Daniels (1944 - 2015)

AP Photo / Gerald Herbert

Mel Daniels (1944 - 2015)

Mel Daniels, Hall of Fame center for the Indiana Pacers, died Friday, October 30, 2015 according to The Indianapolis Star. He was 71.

The 6 ft. 9 in. center was a two-time MVP as he led the Indiana Pacers to three ABA championships in the 1970s. He was also the first first-round NBA draft pick to opt to play for the newer American Basketball Association. He won the first ABA Rookie of the Year in 1968 for the Minnesota Muskies before being traded to the Pacers.

Over the course of the next six seasons he averaged over 15 rebounds a game on his way to becoming the all-time rebound leader of the ABA. He briefly played for the New York Nets in 1976 after the two leagues merged.

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After retiring as a player he joined the coaching staff of Indiana State and coached future NBA great Larry Bird. Daniels then returned to the Pacers in 1986 and served as the team's Director of Player Personnel until 2009.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. He is also one of four players to have his number retired by the Indiana Pacers.

Born in Detroit he played basketball for Pershing High School and later played college basketball at New Mexico University.

Daniels had recently undergone heart surgery.

He is survived by his wife, CeCe.

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