Brown elected to Basketball Hall of Fame
Roger Brown’s star-crossed basketball career received ultimate validation Friday with his selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Brown, the first player to sign a contract with the franchise in 1967, played at least part of eight seasons with the Pacers before retiring in 1975. He averaged 18 points and was regarded as one of the great clutch players in the game. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1970 American Basketball Association Finals, when the Pacers won their first of three league championships, was voted first-team all-ABA in 1971 and was a four-time All-Star.
Brown was working in a General Motors factory in Dayton when the Pacers were formed as a charter member of the ABA. He was recommended to general manager Mike Storen by Indianapolis native Oscar Robertson, who had played with Brown in amateur leagues in the summer. He was 25 years old at the time, and had played just one season as a freshman at Dayton before he and fellow New York City star Connie Hawkins were banned from NCAA and NBA competition because of a loose association with convicted gambler Jack Molinas. They later were awarded a settlement from the NBA. Hawkins jumped to the senior league, while Brown remained in the ABA.
Hawkins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Brown’s peak came in the 1970 playoffs, when he scored 53 points on 18-of-29 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds and passed out six assists in a 142-120 victory in Game 4 of the ABA Finals against Utah. He averaged 28.5 points for the series, which the Pacers won in six games.
Brown passed away in 1997 at the age of 54 from cancer.