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Saturday, May 09, 2020

Mike Storen Helped to Build the Indiana Pacers and the ABA

Mike Storen, who assembled the Indiana Pacers' first championship team in the ABA before serving as the league's Commissioner, passed away on Thursday at the age of 84. Younger sports fans may know more about his daughter, accomplished broadcaster Hannah Storm, than they do about him, but Storen had an impact not just on the ABA but also on several other sports. During his long career as a sports executive, he was affiliated with the Houston Astros (MLB), the World Football League, and the CBA (serving as Commissioner in 1987-88).

The Pacers were known as the Boston Celtics of the ABA after becoming the league's only three-time champions while appearing in the ABA Finals five times during the ABA's nine year run. Storen acquired Hall of Famers Mel Daniels and Roger Brown, he hired Hall of Fame Coach Bobby "Slick" Leonard, he helped choose the Pacers name, he designed the team's first logo, and he selected blue and gold as the team's colors. The Pacers won their first title in 1970 while Storen served as their General Manager, and the foundation pieces that he put in place were essential for the Pacers' title runs in 1972 and 1973. Storen briefly worked in the front office of the Kentucky Colonels before becoming the ABA's Commissioner in 1973. Storen then joined Isaac Hayes in the ownership group of the ABA's Memphis Sounds. The Sounds were sold after the 1974-75 season. Storen became the President and General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks in 1977.

Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown, who was a three-time ABA All-Star (1968-70) and a three-time ABA Coach of the Year (1973, 1975-76), made a statement after Storen passed away: "For me and so many other guys that might not have had a chance to continue playing, his influence on the ABA just gave countless kids and coaches [an opportunity] to do something they love. And at the end of the day, when you consider the contributions some of those kids and coaches made in the NBA after the ABA was finished, its just remarkable. He just cared about the game and cared about the players in the league."

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:53 PM



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