HANG TIME WEST – Thanks to talent, the fluke of timing, and, most of all, to Jerry Colangelo, the Hall of Fame is becoming an annual Pacers’ reunion.
This is Year 3 — and technically No. 4, with a good chance at adding more after that — of a party that will continue two weeks from today when the late Roger Brown is inducted as part of the Class of 2013 in ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. Perhaps Springfield should be known as East Indianapolis.
The Pacers’ showcase started in 2010 when Larry Bird, an Indiana legend who did not play for the home-state team but became a coach and executive with the team, was inducted. That enshrinement was as a member of the 1992 Olympic squad, the Dream Team. Bird himself was inducted in 1998.
In 2011, Chris Mullin went to Springfield after a 16-year career that included three with the Pacers, the first two as a starter before a limited role on the 1999-2000 club that won the Eastern Conference title.
Then, in 2012, Reggie Miller was one of the headliners as Mel Daniels also went in via the ABA committee.
Daniels led to Brown this summer through the same ABA channel Colangelo, the chairman of the Hall, instituted in 2011 to give special attention to areas of the game he felt had become overlooked. And that same category could lead to election in the years ahead for two strong candidates from the Pacers’ ABA days, coach Bob Leonard and forward George McGinnis. Another former player, Freddie Lewis, could get some attention from that committee, while Donnie Walsh, the former head of basketball operations and current consultant, will remain on the ballot as a Contributor.
The organization’s roots in both leagues will be on full display on Sept. 8, when Miller and Daniels will be the presenters as Brown is inducted and Roger Brown Jr. is scheduled to accept on his father’s behalf.
“I’m very close to all of the old players,” Jeannie Brown, Roger’s former wife, said from Indianapolis. “We really stayed connected and always have. When Roger and I moved to this house, Mel helped us move because he had a truck. He helped us move in and the guys used to always come over here. We have a huge yard here and they’d be out there with bow and arrows shooting and practicing. We’ve stayed close. I talk to everybody a lot.”