Pacers and NBA community reacts to the passing of David Benner
For more than a decade, Benner fought cancer and had beat it several times. And for more than 30 years, he was a staple at Pacers games — first as a writer, then in team PR.
The Indiana Pacers lost an important piece of the franchise Wednesday morning when David Benner, the longtime director of media relations, passed away at 67 years old.
All day on Wednesday, heartwarming comments and memories were shared by team employees, former players, his peers and NBA media.
Read through these testimonials and you’ll quickly learn more about Benner, a proud Hoosier who worked for the franchise for 28 seasons.
(And if you have a person memory or story, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. It’s unlocked for free and paid subscribers.)
Reaction from the Pacers:
Herb Simon, Pacers owner: David embodied the very best of our organization. He was immensely talented, experienced, and humble, and his passion for our players and the Pacers organization are what made him beloved by the coaches and athletes with whom he worked. David meaningfully impacted countless people here and around the League, and he will be missed. We will continue to keep him and his family in our prayers.
Reggie Miller: This is an ABSOLUTE gut punch for me. This one HURTS.. Everyone who knows me knows how much I loved and respected this man. I’m at a loss.
Myles Turner: This One Cuts Deep… DB Was Someone Who’s Relationship I Cherished! From The Moment I Arrived In Indy… Little Things Like Taking Me To Dinner Or Just Sharing Some Friendly Stories Went Such A Long Way For Me! Love You Man. R.I.P.
David West: Benner was one of the nicest and most genuine people in the league. He made me feel at home from day one. Our first conversation was 5 minutes about the media in Indy, and the other 30 minutes we were talking about our love for Dogs!!! Rest easy Benner, you will be missed.
Lance Stephenson: My prayers to his family. My buddy I want to say thank you for eveyrthing. Always put a smile on my face and your favorite words everytime we caught eyes "HEY BUDDY" RIP
Thad Young: Rest Easy my friend... one of the best ever... You will be missed!
Ryan Carr, VP of Player Personnel: Tough day. David was kind and funny. He loved the Pacers. Welcomed me as a 23 year old and was a friend for 25 years. Never forget when he said that he didn’t need to listen to any interview I did anymore because he knew he could trust me. That was a big deal. Love you, Bennie.
Mark Boyle, Pacers radio announcer: When I broke into the NBA, Benny showed me the ropes and helped me avoid the hurdles and land mines that any newbie faces. He became a cherished friend, and we shared countless nights on the road during our travels. A wonderful man that leaves a void that will never be filled.
Chris Denari, Pacers TV announcer: A terrific man and colleague who will be missed in so many ways. So welcoming to me 17 years ago when I became Pacers TV PBP. He was always supportive and provided great assistance. Represented the franchise, the city and the state so well. DMB is gone far too soon.
Rick Fuson, Pacers CEO: Few people in the history of our organization have become as synonymous with the Pacers franchise as David Benner. That is the case not only because of his decades as a member of our family, but more so because of his incredible impact on this team and the legacy he has left behind. David was respected across the League and across the city as a consummate professional, and he was a mentor and a friend to so many in our industry and beyond. Most importantly, for me, he was a wonderfully kind and decent man, a person with incredible integrity who always had the best interests of his players and coaches at the center of all he did. The hole left by his passing in the hearts of those who knew him best will never fully heal, and we will miss him and pray for him and his family.
Kevin Pritchard, president of basketball operations: It is difficult to put into words just what David Benner meant to the Indiana Pacers, the NBA, his family, and friends. He had an infectious personality and a wonderful sense of humor that was evident to anyone who was ever fortunate enough to meet him. David was fiercely loyal and incredibly protective of this franchise, our players, and coaches for nearly three decades of service in his role, humbly and dutifully providing invaluable guidance and counsel during that time, while also becoming a cherished friend and confidante to so many. David will be sorely missed, and our thoughts during this difficult time are with his wife Jane, his siblings Bill, Larry, and Sue, and all of those who held him so close to their hearts.
And from across the NBA:
Jim Irsay, Colts owner: Rest in peace, David Benner, after your courageous battle. My prayers and condolences to friend Bill Benner, and the Benner family; and to the entire Indiana Pacers organization. David was and is an Indy legend.
Tim Frank of NBA PR: Benner was what we should all strive to be. Great at his job, a fantastic friend, tremendous family guy and a positively hilarious person. He made people’s jobs easier for years and asked for nothing in return. He will be so missed.
Rachel Nichols, Showtime: For a lot of people inside the league, David *was* Pacers basketball for so long. Just very sad news - he will be missed.
Tim Bontemps, ESPN: Benner was such a kind and decent guy, and always took the time to make sure everything was ok whenever anyone came through Indy. That always meant a lot to me, especially when I was a young reporter getting started in my career, and I know many around the NBA feel the same way.
Doug Smith, Raptors longtime writer: Overwhelming sadness at this news. David, as all who knew him knew, was just a great guy in every regard; funny, genuine, helpful. A great friend for 28 years. Can’t wait to get to Indy for shrimp at St. Elmo and dinner at Harry and Izzy’s ‘cause that was the Benner way.
Sam Amick, The Athletic: David was always a joy to see, and a pro to work with. He did our job back in the day, which gave him great insight for his PR life. He was kind, capable and funny. Others have said it much more eloquently, but he will be tremendously missed.
Jon Krawczynski, The Athletic Minnesota: Covered the Pacers during the brawl and all the incredibly difficult aftermath. Had tons of respect for David in that job, but more so he was just a really good person who treated everyone well. He will be dearly missed.
Chris Mannix, SI: Terrible news. David was a fixture with the Pacers for a long time. So glad that he got to experience his retirement tour last season. You could see how happy it made him to say goodbye to so many familiar faces.
Howard Beck, national writer: Very sad news for all of us scribes who had the pleasure of working with Mr. Benner over the last couple decades. Warm, sharp, funny, a true pro and a class act who loved the game and loved extending a helping hand.
J.A. Adande, longtime sportswriter: David Benner was as good as it got in the NBA PR business. Great to be around, great at his job. I was sad when he retired and even sadder now that he didn’t get many, many years to enjoy his retirement.
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