The Indiana Pacers confirmed Friday that longtime front office employee and director of player personnel Mel Daniels is no longer with the team.
“Mel was a great basketball player who helped make the Pacers a well-known franchise — and we wish him well,” Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said through a statement released by the team.
The brief release added that the organization was hopeful to release a joint statement in the near future. The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Daniels was fired over a messy in-house rift with other team brass — including but not limited to general manager David Morway and head coach Jim O’Brien.
Daniels spent nearly 30 years with the Pacers organization and served as both a scout and assistant coach in addition to his extended front office role.
The 65-year-old Daniels was a standout player for the Indiana Pacers in the then American Basketball Association. He took home the defunct league’s inaugural Rookie of the Year honor in 1967-68 before joining Indiana. He won the MVP award in two of his next three seasons and led the Pacers to three ABA championships while making seven ABA All-Star appearances.
Upon completion of his playing career, Daniels was an assistant coach for Indiana State from 1978-82 and helped mold Bird’s playing career. Under the guidance of Daniels, Bird and ISU went 33-1 in ’78-’79, ultimately losing to Michigan State in the NCAA Finals.
Daniels is one of only five players to have his number retired by the Pacers organization.