Pacers Hall of Famer, local legend George McGinnis passes away at 73
George McGinnis could not be mistaken with his 6-foot-8 frame. He produced an undefeated state HS title, a spectacular season at IU and a Hall of Fame worthy pro career.
Pacers great George McGinnis passed away Thursday morning at 73 years old.
He had been at Community North Hospital for the past week after suffering cardiac arrest while at home.
The Hall of Famer was an Indianapolis native. He won a state championship at Indianapolis Washington High School and was named Indiana Mr. Basketball in 1969. He played one season at Indiana University — he led the Big Ten in both scoring (29.9 points) and rebounding (14.7) per game — and then went on to have a successful professional career in the ABA and NBA.
McGinnis helped the Pacers to two ABA Championships (1972, 1973), including being named Playoffs MVP in 1973. He was a three-time ABA All-Star (in four seasons) and a three-time NBA All-Star.
He also played for the 76ers and Nuggets before returning to the Pacers to finish up his playing career, which totaled 842 games across both leagues.
He was bothered by inherited back issues later in his life.
Head coach Rick Carlisle, who appreciates the franchise’s history and is a big part of it, took time during his pregame TV interview on Bally Sports Indiana Wednesday night to lift up McGinnis and his family.
“Just wanted to send out sincerest thoughts, prayers for the family to have strength,” Carlisle said. “It’s a very difficult situation. George McGinnis was one of my favorite players when I was growing up in high school. Every day we walk in our facilities, we see his number in the rafters, Hall of Fame. His greatness as a player is unquestioned. He’s one of the few guys that was an All-Star in the ABA and the NBA. And his game was among the most unique in history.
“He’s a wonderful, warm, kind man. Got to spend time with him on several occasions. Just want to send our best to the family and hope that they can stay strong through a tough go here.”
Reggie Miller on Instagram: “ANOTHER gut punch for us Hoosiers.. l'm at a loss in losing George McGinnis, my thoughts are with the family at this time. Thank you George for everything you did for me and my family, please say hello to Mel, Roger and Slick. My Guardian Angel game just got even stronger.”
Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard on Twitter: “We sadly lost a legend today. George McGinnis was incomparable, a beloved Pacers’ icon who embodied the spirit of Indiana basketball. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
McGinnis (No. 30) is one of four Pacers players to have his uniform number retired and hanging in the rafters at Gainbridge Fieldhouse — along with Reggie Miller, Mel Daniels and Roger Brown.
“R.I.P To An Amazing Mentor/Ambassador Around Naptown,” Pacers center Myles Turner tweeted.
Statement from the Simon Family and Pacers Sports & Entertainment:
From his all-state high school days to his time as an IU All-American and, of course, to his legendary ABA championship runs with the Pacers, George McGinnis shaped so many of the fondest basketball memories for generations of Hoosiers. He was the very definition of an Indiana basketball legend, a champion, and Hall of Fame athlete. But he was more than that.
George was family. A passionate advocate for his fellow ABA players and a present, smiling face around the franchise, George has been as synonymous with our Pacers franchise as anyone. He will be greatly missed, and all of us at Pacers Sports & Entertainment will keep George and his family in our prayers.
IU basketball head coach Mike Woodson:
I loved George McGinnis. He meant so much not only to IU and the state of Indiana, but to the entire basketball world.
I looked up to George growing up in Indianapolis. He meant so much to me as a player and more importantly as a man. George was a Hall of Famer on and off the court, and I am going to miss him so much. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McGinnis family, his friends, and his teammates. Rest easy Big Mac.
McGinnis was a gentle giant who was a force to handle on the court. He left a lasting impression on you if you were fortunate to meet him. He had a huge frame, 6-foot-8, that resembled LeBron James … long before LeBron James.
Off the court, he helped where he could.
He served on the advisory board for the Dropping Dimes Foundation, a local organization that assists former ABA players, personnel and their families who have encouraged unfortunate circumstances.
In 2017, McGinnis became the fifth Pacer to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and he was presented by Artis Gilmore (‘11), Reggie Miller (‘12), Bobby Leonard (‘14), and Spencer Haywood (‘15).
A few months after he was enshrined, McGinnis was celebrated at a Pacers home game against the San Antonio Spurs.
“The Hall of Fame waited far too long but they finally figured it out, and they put George in this September,” Mark Boyle, the longtime radio voice of the Pacers, said during the halftime celebration.
Among those joining McGinnis at half-court for the celebration was coach Slick Leonard and his wife, Nancy, more than a half-dozen of his teammates, trainer David Craig, and the late Mel Daniels’ wife, Cece.
McGinnis was then presented with a Range Rover from Simon and the team.
“I’m humbled and honored!” he tweeted that day. “Thank you to my Pacers family and to my friends, family, and fans that have always been there to support me.”