Melvin Joe Daniels (born July 20, 1944) is a retired American professional basketball player.
Daniels attended Detroit Pershing High School, which also produced players like Spencer Haywood, Ralph Simpson, Kevin Willis, and Steve Smith. The 6'9" center then played for the University of New Mexico Lobos basketball team from 1964–67. He was the ninth pick of the 1967 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, selected by the Cincinnati Royals, and was also drafted by the Minnesota Muskies of the American Basketball Association (ABA). He chose to play in the fledgling ABA, and became one of its all-time greatest players.
Daniels was the ABA Rookie of the Year for the 1967–68 season before being traded to the Indiana Pacers, then of the ABA and now in the NBA. Daniels was the ABA Most Valuable Player in both 1969 and 1971 and led the Pacers to three ABA championships. Daniels played in seven ABA All-Star Games, and was named the ABA All-Star Game MVP in the 1971 game. Daniels led the ABA in rebounding average in three different seasons, and is the ABA's all-time leader in total rebounds (9,494) and career rebounding average (15.1 rebounds per game). Daniels also grabbed 1608 career postseason rebounds, ranking in the top twelve in professional basketball history. Daniels played briefly for the NBA's New York Nets in the 1976–77 season.
After his playing days, Daniels joined the coaching staff of his college coach, Bob King, at Indiana State, where he coached future Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Daniels joined the Indiana Pacers front office in 1986 and was the team's Director of Player Personnel until October 2009.
Daniels was announced as a member of the 2012 induction class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on February 24, 2012. He formally joined former ABA players Connie Hawkins (1992), Dan Issel (1993), David Thompson (1996) and Artis Gilmore (2011) in the Hall on September 7, 2012.
Daniels is one of four players (the others are Roger Brown, Reggie Miller, and George McGinnis) to have his jersey (#34) retired by the Pacers.
By Dean Hanley
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