Indiana Pacers Director of Media Relations David Benner Enters 28th and Final Season with Organization
Pacers Name Michael Preston as the Team's New Vice President of Basketball Communications & Media Relations
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers announced today that respected industry veteran and Indiana native David Benner – a staple within the league and organization as the Director of Media Relations for the past 27 years – will transition into a Senior Media Advisor role before stepping away at the end of the 2021-22 season. Additionally, the team has named Michael Preston as the new Vice President of Basketball Communications & Media Relations, effective September 22, 2021, joining Associate Director of Media Relations Krissy Myers and Manager of Public Relations Wes Kaminski.
"On behalf of our entire organization, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to David Benner for his meaningful contributions and dedicated service to both the Indiana Pacers and the NBA for nearly three decades," said President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. "He always and unfailingly placed the best interest of our organization above all else and did so with a style that was all his own. It goes without saying that David is an exemplary media relations professional, a trusted confidante, and, most importantly, someone we are proud to call a friend for life."
"As a geeky, no-talent high school kid who was a student manager for the basketball team, everyone told me I would never make it to the NBA. Well, after 27 (and hopefully 28 years), take that," Benner said. "There are so many people to thank, starting with the Simon family, who made this a great organization to work for; Dale Ratterman and Donnie Walsh, who gave a sportswriter a chance at this dream job; and my wife, my brothers and sister for their guidance over the years. Finally, my co-workers through the years – Tim, MaryKay, Jeff, Krissy and Wes, who carried me every step."
Benner's impact on the organization and media relations department since his arrival prior to the start of the 1994-95 season has been immeasurable. Under his direction, the Pacers became the first two-time winner of the Brian McIntyre Media Relations Award (2010-11, 2012-13), issued annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA) to the NBA media relations staff that exemplifies the standards of professionalism and excellence worthy of acclaim. Benner and his staff also played key roles in the organization being recognized by the PBWA with the Rudy Tomjanovich Award (2013-14), which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with the media and fans, as well as his excellence on the court, and the Magic Johnson Award (2003-04), which honors the player who best combines excellence on the basketball court with cooperation and dignity in dealing with the media and the public.
Benner has been a key fixture with during numerous organizational public and media relations successes, including six Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals appearance, as well as multiple individual player awards that include a Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year, while working closely with some of the league’s most popular and recognizable players.
Benner began his career with the Pacers following a successful career as a sports journalist with the Indianapolis Star, where he first covered the team (1983-1991) and then the Notre Dame football beat (1991-1994).
Benner will remain with the organization throughout the 2021-22 season as a Senior Media Advisor and asset to the Basketball Communications Department.
Preston arrives in Indiana with nearly two decades of experience in strategic communications and public relations across multiple fields, most notably having spent 11 seasons as Director of Public Relations with the Philadelphia 76ers (2006-2017). While there, he oversaw basketball and corporate communications for eight years, before primarily focusing on the public relations efforts behind the most radical rebuild in the history of professional sports.
Prior to his time with the Sixers, Preston spent three years as the Manager of Business Ventures Communications with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, where he was responsible for the team's advertising and research strategies, as well as involvement with the creative and operational elements of BaltimoreRavens.com. He has also spent time as the Senior Manager of Public Relations for Nazareth Speedway, Sports Media Relations Coordinator with the Miami Heat, and started his career as a staff writer with the Sports Business Daily.
Additionally, Preston has led the public relations and communication efforts for numerous large-scale initiatives, properties, and brands, including the successful launch of the XFL's DC Defenders, the re-opening of Ocean Casino Resort – the largest property in Atlantic City, NJ – and national retail chain Spirit Halloween.