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Pacers, ABA legend Mel Daniels passes away

Think about all the great players who came out of the ABA — Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin — then went on to legendary NBA careers.

Mel Daniels may have been better than all of them. At least he was in the AAA years — a three-time ABA champion with the Pacers, two-time ABA MVP, seven-time ABA All-Star, a force inside that averaged 18.4 points, and 14.9 rebounds a game. He played only one season in the NBA near the end of his career, but his contributions to basketball were so large Daniels was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2012.

Daniels has passed away, something first reported by Peter Vecsey:

There has been an outpour of appreciation for Daniels across Twitter. And also within the Pacers organization itself.

“I join our extended Pacers family in offering my sincerest condolences to CeCe and Mel’s family,” said Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner Herb Simon. “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.”

“We’ve lost a great one,” said Bobby “Slick” Leonard, who was Daniels’ coach on the three ABA Champions and joined him in the Hall of Fame in 2014.