May 7 (UPI) — Former American Basketball Association commissioner and NBA executive Mike Storen died Thursday after a lengthy battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 84.
Storen was the father of ESPN SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm, who announced her father’s death on social media.
“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. … I am so grateful for all of the time I had with him, and for all of 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 was the founder and first general manager of the Indiana Pacers in 1967, paving the way for the ABA franchise’s eventual entry into the NBA.
“Pacers Sports & Entertainment is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the first general manager of the Indiana Pacers, Mike Storen,” the team said in a statement. “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. … 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.”
As a front office executive, Storen played a key role in acquiring multiple Hall of Fame players, including Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, Artis Gilmore, Louis Dampier and Dan Issel.
Storen became the commissioner of the ABA in 1973 and had a direct role in leading the upstart league to an eventual merger with the NBA. He later became owner of the ABA’s Memphis Sounds with musician Isaac Hayes and general manager of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
Storen also helped launch the “Toys for Tots” program while serving in the United States Marine Corps.
Storen, a graduate of Notre Dame, was a native of Michigan City, Ind. He is survived by his wife Lynn, his three children, two step-daughters and 14 grandchildren.