Pacers owner Herb Simon named a first-time nominee for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
Simon is the longest-tenured NBA owner, having bought the team back in 1983 — 40 years ago.
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced the newest list of eligible candidates for the class of 2024 and a prominent Pacer was included.
Not just anyone, but the team owner.
Herb Simon, owner of the Indiana Pacers and Fever, is a first-time nominee — one of 30 in the contributor category.
Simon, 89, bought the Pacers with his late brother, Mel, in 1983 for $11 million and has now owned the franchise for 40 years.
“He saved the franchise by purchasing the franchise at that time, taking on a lot of debt, and has built it into one of the model franchises,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said Thursday before the team’s loss in Memphis. “His acts of philanthropy are legendary, and he’s a guy that doesn’t ever seek attention. So, this is very well-deserved of him.”
Finalists will be announced on Friday, Feb. 16 in Indianapolis during All-Star weekend. And then the class selected will be announced on Sat., April 6 during the men’s Final Four in Phoenix.
Former Pacers exec Donnie Walsh is also a nominee in the contributor category. He retired from his role as a team consultant at the end of 2020. Several months ago, Walsh visited the Pacers’ practice facility for a training camp practice.
Throughout his ownership, Simon has subscribed to a hands-off approach — to where he’s informed on everything going on, but he empowers those he hires to do their job.
In his time owning the team, he’s had three leaders of basketball operations: Walsh, Larry Bird and Kevin Pritchard.
“In the beginning, I didn’t even have time to mess with the Pacers,” he said back in Dec. 2021. “I was busy making a living. (Laughs) I would call Donnie once in a while. Now, I have more time, I’m more involved, I’m on the phone a lot with Kevin and I really like the group he’s put together. I’m having fun, even though losing is not fun.
“I’ve been in it a long time at this thing and the beautiful thing is I still enjoy it. And I really believe it’s a team for the community also. I’m very sensitive to the community and being responsible to our community that’s been very supportive of us.”
Pacers Sports & Entertainment now consists of the Pacers, Fever, Mad Ants, Pacers Gaming and Pacers Foundation.
“He has been a force of innovation and constructive change over the years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this year. “I think other governors in the league would say he has done extraordinary service to the league.”
One month ago, Simon agreed to sell an additional 15% stake to Steven Rales, whose stake in the team will grow to 20%. The Simon Family remains in full control — and there’s no plans to change that. Steve Simon has taken on a larger role, both publicly and privately, over the last decade.
“If something happened to me, he would be there,” Herb said two years ago. “He’s very familiar, he works very closely with the business side and checks in with (the basketball side). He’s around and he’s very involved.”
The Enshrinement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17 in Springfield, Mass.