Detroit Pershing great and Indiana Pacers legend Mel Daniels was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame Friday, although an illness that resulted in him being hospitalized prevented him from attending the ceremony. Daniels was released from the hospital on Friday, according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:
Mel Daniels is on his couch at home watching tonight's ceremony alone because he has to stay stress free.— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) September 8, 2012
Daniels paid homage both to the ABA as a whole and, in particular, several of his former Indiana Pacers teammates. Daniels was part of some great Pacers teams while they were in the ABA, as he recounted in his pre-recorded speech.
Several other NBA greats discussed Daniels' impact in a video before his induction.
"I grew up a Pacers fan by watching Mel Daniels," Larry Bird said.
Daniels was known for his dominance of the paint, his rebounding and his toughness.
"Mel Daniels will break your fingers shaking your hand. If he walked into this room right now, I wouldn't shake his hand," Julius Erving said. "I think he was the first guy I heard growling on a basketball court."
Curtis Harris of Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie wrote about Daniels' Hall credentials this week:
Imagine a player who for 7 seasons averaged 20 points and 16 rebounds. A player who grabbed more rebounds than any other player in that span and scored the 11th most points.
A player whose teams won an average of 50 games a year and captured 3 titles. A player who was Rookie of the Year, a two-time MVP, a four-time All First Team member, and a seven-time All-Star. And throw in an All-Star Game MVP for good measure.
Now "open your eyes" and imagine this was all accomplished by an NBA player.
He'd have been feted and escorted into the Hall of Fame decades ago. Instead, Mel Daniels's ABA accomplishments languished over those decades until now.
Daniels was represented at the ceremony by his wife. He was presented by Hall of Famers Artis Gilmore and Wayne Embry.
For more on the Hall of Fame, check out SB Nation's NBA news hub.