Mel Daniels (Melvin Joe Daniels)

Mel Daniels

Mel Daniels attended Pershing High School in Detroit, Michigan, which also produced players like Spencer Haywood, Ralph Simpson, Kevin Willis and Steve Smith. Daniels then played for the University of New Mexico Lobos basketball team, where he averaged 20 points per game and was named an all-American. He was the ninth pick of the 1967 NBA draft, selected by the Cincinnati Royals, and was also drafted by the Minnesota Muskies of the American Basketball Association (ABA). He chose to play in the fledgling ABA. Daniels was the ABA Rookie of the Year for the 1967–68 season before being traded to the Indiana Pacers, then of the ABA and now in the NBA. Daniels was the ABA Most Valuable Player in both 1969 and 1971 and led the Pacers to three ABA championships. Daniels played in seven ABA All-Star Games, and was named the ABA All-Star Game MVP in the 1971 game. Daniels led the ABA in rebounding average in three different seasons, and is the ABA’s all-time leader in total rebounds (9,494) and career rebounding average (15.1 rebounds per game). Daniels also grabbed 1,608 career postseason rebounds. Daniels played briefly for the NBA’s New York Nets during the 1976–77 season. After his playing days, Daniels joined the coaching staff of his college coach, Bob King, at Indiana State, where he coached future Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Daniels joined the Indiana Pacers front office in 1986 and was the team’s Director of Player Personnel until October 2009.

Mel Daniels was announced as a member of the 2012 induction class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on February 24, 2012. He formally joined former ABA players Connie Hawkins (1992), Dan Issel (1993), David Thompson (1996) and Artis Gilmore (2011) in the Hall on September 7, 2012. In 1997, Daniels was selected as a member of the ABA All-Time Team by a panel of ABA sports media, referees and executives. Daniels is one of four players (the others are Roger Brown, Reggie Miller and George McGinnis) to have his jersey (#34) retired by the Pacers. Mel Daniels died on October 30, 2015, at the age of 71, from complications after heart surgery. He was survived by his wife, CeCe Daniels, son Mel Daniels Jr., two granddaughters, and two sisters.

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  • July, 20, 1944
  • USA
  • Detroit, Michigan


  • October, 30, 2015
  • USA
  • Sheridan, Indiana

Cause of Death

  • complications from heart surgery

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