Pacers founder, former ABA commissioner Mike Storen dies at 84

Ryan Young
·3 min read

Indiana Pacers founder and former commissioner of the American Basketball Association Mike Storen died on Thursday after a battle with cancer, his daughter Hannah Storm, an ESPN anchor, announced on Twitter.

He was 84.

"If you knew my dad, you knew not only the profound impact he had on the sports industry, but also on the people he encountered," Storm said on Twitter. "He was creative, larger-than-life, relentlessly positive, a fierce leader, inspiring, a forward thinker and above all, my greatest supporter … I am so grateful for all the time I had with him, and for all the time he spent with my daughters. I learned so much from him, but most importantly, he set the example for the kind of parent I strive to be for my girls, one who lives their dreams in such a way that it inspires and enables your children to do the same.

“I am honored to continue to carry on his legacy through my own career in sports, and I know he was immensely proud to have a daughter who embraced his world and made a career for herself there too.”

Storen founded the Pacers in 1967 and served as their first general manager until 1970. He helped lead the team to an ABA championship in his final season, and set up the franchise for two more in the three years that followed.

Storen became the commissioner of the ABA in 1973, and helped lead the league to eventually merge with the NBA in 1976 — bringing the Pacers, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs with him.

Storen briefly owned the ABA’s Memphis Sounds, served as the general manager of the Atlanta Hawks in 1977 and served as the commissioner for three minor leagues in the 1980s and 90s.

Storen also served as a captain in the United States Marine Corps and helped launch the “Toys for Tots” program — which helps deliver toys to children each Christmas.

He is survived by his wife, three children, two stepdaughters and 14 grandchildren, per ESPN.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact Storen had on our franchise and the American Basketball Association, for which he would later serve as commissioner,” the Pacers said in a statement. “He paved the way for the Pacers' eventual entry into the NBA by putting together a talented front office and assembling a roster led by eventual Hall of Famers Roger Brown and Mel Daniels. He hired Hall of Famer Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard as head coach in the Pacers' second season, was instrumental in choosing the name ‘Pacers,’ designed the team's first logo and chose its blue and gold colors.

“Storen was the first captain of the ABA's flagship franchise and the foundation for the tradition of success the Pacers maintain to this day.”

Mike Storen founded the Indiana Pacers and served as their first general manager before leading the ABA to merge with the NBA nearly a decade later.
Mike Storen founded the Indiana Pacers and served as their first general manager before leading the ABA to merge with the NBA nearly a decade later. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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