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News » Pacers to honor late co-owner Mel Simon

Pacers to honor late co-owner Mel Simon

Pacers to honor late co-owner Mel SimonINDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Pacers will honor their late co-owner Mel Simon with a jersey-retirement ceremony before Friday's game against the Washington Wizards.

The Pacers said Wednesday the banner will bear Mel Simon's name, but not a number. It will hang alongside the retired jerseys of former players Reggie Miller, Mel Daniels, Roger Brown and George McGinnis, and ex-coach Bobby "Slick" Leonard.

Simon, who died in September the age of 82, bought the woebegone franchise with his brother, Herb, in 1983.

Herb Simon told The Associated Press by telephone from Paris that he will return to Indianapolis in time for what he said would be a small, dignified ceremony.

"It's going to be something to respect a guy who helped save the Pacers for Indianapolis, and who did his job well for 25 years and who was my partner," Herb Simon said. "We just need to honor him."

The Pacers struggled at first under the Simons before hitting their stride. With players like the sharp-shooting Miller, Jermaine O'Neal and others, Indiana reached the Eastern Conference finals six times in 11 years and the NBA finals in 2000. The success helped lead to the opening of Conseco Fieldhouse in 1999.

The Simons also endured the franchise's downhill turn that followed the brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans in 2004, an event the franchise still is recovering from. The Pacers have missed the playoffs the past three years.

After the Pacers' fortunes tumbled, Mel Simon's health failed and CEO Donnie Walsh left the team, Herb Simon took over day-to-day operations. Herb Simon now is the 100 percent owner of the team.

Herb Simon said Mel was a great partner and friend who would rib him at times.

"He was a great businessman," Herb Simon said. "If you would talk to him, he would say all the good seasons were his doing, and all the bad seasons were my doing."

The ceremony will be held in conjunction with activities for the 10-year anniversary of the opening of Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers played Boston in the first game in the building on Nov. 6, 1999, after the Simons cut the ribbon earlier that day. Miller scored 29 points, and the Pacers won 115-108.

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Added: November 4, 2009


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