Miami won 96-84 behind 25 from Dwyane Wade (who has scored at least 20 in every Miami game this season). Bosh had 16 points and 12 boards.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Mel Daniels’ former teammates will always remember him as a fighter.
Cindy Simon Skjodt will always treasure his breath-taking bear hugs, and Reggie Miller will always consider Daniels his favorite uncle.
On Thursday, Daniels, the former Indiana Pacers star, was remembered as everything from a tough-talking enforcer to a cowboy-loving poet to a gentle giant who captured the hearts of so many fans in this basketball-rich state. He died Friday at age 71, less than 24 hours after attending Indiana’s home opener against Memphis.
“We started out as a family and that family grew and grew and grew,” former coach Bob “Slick” Leonard said during a public memorial held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “I look out and see Jeff Foster, I look out and see Reggie, and I look out and see Derrick McKey and they all became part of that family, and it all started with that original band of buddies.”
Daniels was the unquestioned leader of the group that won three ABA titles.
At 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, he owned the post. The Detroit native who never played the sport until his junior season in high school finished a Hall of Fame career as the ABA’s career leader in rebounds, No. 4 in league history in scoring, with two MVP awards and the 1967-68 Rookie of the Year Award.
He was never afraid to mix it up on the court.
In his first pro game, with the Minnesota Muskies, he got into a fight and was ejected. Another time, later in his career, Daniels was got knocked down in the first half and responded by following the opposing team to its locker room before being detoured to his own.
Teammates were often treated the same way.
“He did not like me in the paint, that was his house,” former Pacers forward Darnell Hillman said. “If you came in his house, you paid a price. I paid a price, too.”
Age didn’t change that.
Foster told a story about the one time he convinced Daniels to ditch the cowboy boots so he could go at it on the court. After dribbling about 20 times, Foster said he started complaining and Daniels turned and immediately hit a shot that sent him sprinting away yelling “yee-hee.” Daniels never let Foster forget that it was the last basket of his career.
Away from the court, though, Daniels had a big heart and plenty of fatherly advice.
Miller recounted the time Daniels told him there were only three places he needed to drive in Indianapolis – Market Square Arena, his own house and the bank to cash his paycheck. Eventually, Miller said, Daniels relented and added one more acceptable place to the list – the drive thru at Steak-N-Shake.
But it was their first encounter in the fall of 1987 that turned Miller, a California kid accustomed to temperatures in the 80s, into a lifelong fan of no-nonsense, baritone-voiced man he called Uncle Mel.
“He looked at me and said, `Son do you know you where you are? It gets cold around here. Where’s your jacket, fool?” Miller said, drawing laughter from a crowd estimated at a little less than 1,000. “I said, `I never had a jacket, what kind of jacket should I have? He said, `Look dummy, one that keeps you warm.’ That was Mel and I said from that moment, `I love this man.”‘
His presence resonated far beyond the locker room, too.
Around town, Daniels was known for his strong handshake, his love of horses and a down-to-earth demeanor who enjoyed mingling with fans.
But there were two things about Daniels that weren’t well-known.
“You’ve read the last few days about his handshake, but his hugs were equally bone-crushing for the ladies,” said Simon Skjodt, the daughter of late team co-owner Mel Simon. “We were always fearful he would squeeze the breath right out of us. But you always wanted one.”
The other was his love of poetry.
Throughout the 90-minute ceremony attended by Daniels’ family members, several of the thousands of poems Daniels scribbled on napkins, the backs of receipts and other assorted papers were read. One that appeared on the video, read by Daniels, was written for Miller as a polite way of prodding him not to come out of retirement.
Not surprisingly, Miller got the message.
But Leonard’s summation was the most fitting.
“I’m going to miss this guy. Like all of us, I’m going to miss him,” he said. “I know how tough he was, I know how committed he was. He would give you the shirt off his back, he had a heart of gold. There’s not much more to be said.”
Dwyane Wade was hot, looking 10 years younger and scoring 16 points in the first half against Minnesota.
How hot was he? What you see above was how he ended the half. That’s just ridiculous.
That shot put the Heat up by 10 and may be the craziest shot of the young season.
Bradley Beal is finally healthy and putting up All-Star level numbers for the Washington Wizards — scoring 25.3 points per game annd shooting 46 percent from three. He’s also making big plays, such as Wednesday night’s three-pointer to beat the Spurs. He and John Wall have formed one of the best backcourts in the NBA.
And he’s a restricted free agent next summer. Teams are going to chase him.
That doesn’t mean he’s looking to bolt. He told Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports he wants to stay put.
“This is where I want to be. I’m not looking at any other teams. I’m not looking to go anywhere else. I believe in this team we have in this locker room. I’m a big cornerstone of this team, so I’m here. I want to be here. Hopefully, the front office knows that. I’m pretty sure that they know that,” Beal told Yahoo Sports. “It’s a business at the end of the day. I can’t let that affect the way I play, nor will I ever let it. It’s money at the end of the day. And I just want to go out here and play my butt off, each and every night and get what I deserve. Earn every penny that I get. If that’s the max, then it’s the max. And if it’s not, it’s not. At least I can look at it and say I gave it my all.”
This isn’t about liking or not liking a player, it’s all about cap space next summer. As the Spurs did before with Kawhi Leonard and the Pistons are doing with Andre Drummond right now, rather than reaching a deal on a contract extension the Wizards and Beal agreed to hold off leaving the team more cap space to chase a big name free agent next summer. Not to name any names… *cough* Durant *cough*.
Whether or not the Wizards land a big-time free agent, they will re-sign Beal after they make their other moves. And if he keeps playing the way he has lately, that will likely be to a max deal.
It could have been worse. Heck, it seemed worse when it happened. In the third quarter wOrlando’s Nikola Vucevic got the ball in the post against Dwight Howard, and as he drove the ball his right knee just seemed to quickly. He immediately went to the bench, and Magic fans have the right to be nervous.
He’s going to miss time, but the diagnosis is not that bad.
I’d be surprised if he plays Saturday against the Sixers either, and he could be out a little longer than that.
But this is not a knee sprain or any ligament damage, so that’s a good sign.
Vucevic is averaging 15.8 points and eight rebounds a game for the Magic. With him out Dewayne Dedmon will get more run and that is good for the Orlando defense, but they are going to have to find a way to replace his scoring. Which will not be easy.