Pacers Hall of Famer Mel Daniels dies at 71
Freddie Lewis can recall the last time he spoke with his friend Mel Daniels.
Freddie Lewis至今仍記得最後一次與Mel Daniels閒談的情景。
It was two weeks ago. Daniels had just been released from the hospital, but seemed more concerned about Lewis, his former teammate with the Indiana Pacers. The pair stayed close through most of their careers in the American Basketball Association, even sharing a room on road trips during their six years together as Pacers teammates. Daniels was the guy who would use his fists to stick up for his teammate. And up until mid-October, he was still fighting for Lewis.
“Roomie, how you doing …” was all Lewis could get in before Daniels switched topics.
“Roomie, I’m glad you called and everything,” Lewis remembered Daniels saying, “but we got to see about getting your jersey retired.”
Daniels led the ABA Pacers to three championships, won two Most Valuable Player awards, made seven All-Star appearances and later earned induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Daniels, a loyal teammate and companion, died Friday. He was 71.
“He was always there for you,” Lewis told IndyStar. “He stood up for me and anybody else. He was such a fierce competitor that he should never be forgotten.”
According to the Pacers, Daniels died in Sheridan, north of Indianapolis in Hamilton County, and is survived by wife, CeCe; a son, Mel Daniels Jr.; two granddaughters and two sisters. The team gave no cause of death; Daniels had quadruple bypass heart surgery years ago.
“The tremendous outpouring of prayers being sent our way is overwhelming,” CeCe Daniels said in a statement released by the team. “We are so grateful for all the love. His charisma, poise and passion for life — be it horses, basketball or friends — is a template for us all, his family and his fans.”