The basketball world lost a legendary figure on Thursday, when Mike Storen, the founder of the Indiana Pacers, and former ABA commissioner, died at age 84. His daughter, ESPN anchor Hannah Storm, announced the news on Twitter.
“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 wrote. “He was creative, larger-than-life, relentlessly positive, a fierce leader, inspiring, a forward thinker and above all, my greatest supporter. It is with a heavy heart and much sadness that I share that Mike Storen, loving father, grandfather, husband, proud member of the Fighting Irish family, and renowned sports executive, passed away today due to his battle with a rare form of cancer.”
The Pacers later released a statement on their website, saying it is “impossible to overstate the impact Storen had on our franchise and the American Basketball Association.”
Pacers Sports & Entertainment is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the first general manager of the Indiana Pacers, Mike Storen. 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. 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. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family.
In 1967, Storen helped found the Pacers and became their first general manager. Though he moved on a few years later, he helped set in motion an ABA dynasty. In the nine seasons before the league merged with the NBA, the Pacers won three titles and were in the Finals five times.
Storen served as commissioner of the ABA from 1973-74, and also had stints as the owner of the Memphis Sounds and the GM of the Atlanta Hawks.