OK, so Mel Daniels wasn’t ever a Piston, but the Detroit Pershing product is absolutely a notable and often overlooked name in the great basketball history of this state. Daniels was a great player in the ABA, mostly with the Indiana Pacers, but his because he spent his prime years in the ABA as opposed to the NBA, his greatness is often forgot about. He’ll get his due this year though, as the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Daniels will be this year’s ABA Committee direct selection. From the press release:
MEL DANIELS [Player] – Daniels is one of the most dominating big men in the history of the American Basketball Association (ABA) as the league’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 Indiana Pacers, now of the NBA. He was selected as a member of the ABA 30-Man All-Time team. In college, Daniels starred for the University of New Mexico, leading the Lobos in scoring for three straight seasons and was the Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player in 1967. He was drafted ninth in the 1967 NBA Draft, but chose to go play in the ABA instead. Following his ABA Rookie of the Year award in 1968, he went on to earn All-ABA First Team four times and Second Team once. After his professional career, which concluded as a member of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, Daniels joined the coaching staff at Indiana State, where he coached future Hall of Famer Larry Bird. He was also a member of the Indiana Pacers front office for over 20 years.
It’s great to see another Detroit product make it into the Hall.