A Big Day for the Pacers Family
April 2, 2012-- Jim Nantz called it "a big day for the Pacer family," and did he ever have it right.
With the announcement Monday of Reggie Miller's election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pacers will have two representatives in the Class of 2012 to be enshrined on Sept. 7 in Springfield, Mass. Miller joins close friend and mentor Mel Daniels, who was directly elected to the Hall from the ABA Committee.
They are not the first former Pacers to enter the Hall -- preceded by Chris Mullin, Gus Johnson, Adrian Dantley and Alex English -- but they are the two whose careers were streaked exclusively with blue and gold.
"It's a humbling experience, obviously," Miller said at the press conference moderated by CBS' Nantz announcing the Class of 2012 today in New Orleans. "Look at all the men and women that are on this dais and the ones that are out there watching and the ones that are at home, to be part of this exclusive club, it's pretty special.
"It's a proud day for me. It was interesting, we had the dinner that Mr. (Jerry) Colangelo put together with some guys that are already in the Hall. They had a chance to speak and in listening to all these people, I'm honored because I'm the second Indiana Pacer to go in behind No. 1, a guy who was an idol of mine for 18 years with the Indiana Pacers, Mel Daniels, so it's special for me."
While Miller was the centerpiece of the Pacers' decade among the NBA elite, making six trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and one to the NBA Finals, Daniels was the man in the middle of the most dominant franchise in the ABA.
"It's unimaginable. I started playing basketball 51 years ago -- I was made to play basketball 51 years ago -- and to get to this point in my life, it's unbelievable," Daniels said. "And what makes it special is Reggie Miller and I played for the same team. That makes it double special.
"For a long period of time I felt like the Bob Uecker of basketball, but Mr. Colangelo, Jerry, and the committee started recognizing the contributions that the American Basketball Association made to the NBA and it's been a good thing, a good marriage."
In his role as Chairman of the Hall's Board of Governors, Colangelo was the driving force behind the creation of the ABA Committee. Daniels was the second player elected from that committee, following Artis Gilmore in 2011.
Miller follows older sister Cheryl into the Hall.
"I get a chance to join Cheryl as the first brother and sister act to be in the Hall of Fame," he said. "She was a role model, she is a role model. She set the bar high for the Miller family. I'm just glad on her coattails dragging all the way to Springfield."
Daniels singled out the late Will Robinson, a legendary basketball mentor in his hometown of Detroit, for getting his career started.
"If wasn't for him, none of this would be true for me," Daniels said. "He created the whole deal."
Miller is the franchise's all-time leader in points (25,279) and steals (1,505). He was a five-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-NBA third team selection and won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 and a FIBA World Championship in 1994. He ranks second on the NBA all-time list for three-point field goals made (2,560) and attempted (6,486). He is ninth on the NBA career free-throw percentage list (.888) and seventh in career minutes played (47,619). He has the most three-pointers made (320) in playoff history.
Daniels was the ABA's all-time leading rebounder (9,494) and fourth all-time leading scorer (11,739). A two-time league MVP in 1969 and 1971, he was a seven-time ABA All-Star and a member of three ABA championship teams with the Pacers.
Both had strong relationships with current team President -- and fellow Hall of Famer -- Larry Bird.
Bird coached Miller for three memorable seasons from 1997-2000. Daniels was an assistant coach when Bird played at Indiana State, and later worked with Bird during his two decades in the Pacers' front office.
"Reggie’s career speaks for itself, but he ranks at the top with any player at making end-of-game shots," Bird said. "I was fortunate enough to see it first-hand as a coach and his ability and leadership helped drive this franchise to another level."