The Indiana Pacers won’t be the same – not for the media, players, coaches, executives and fans. The franchise has figure out how to move on without Mel Daniels, Slick Leonard, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and Donnie Walsh, but now they are losing the BEST to ever do what he did.
One of my favorite parts of covering the Pacers and working for many years at the flagship station for the Pacers Radio Network has been the opportunity to get to know Director for Media Relations David Benner.
David will step into a new role as an advisor to the media relations staff for the upcoming season as he cycles into retirement, and he will be sorely missed.
We never had the opportunity to become great friends, but David embodies all the attributes shared by those I count as my friends. He’s funny, honest, fair-minded, unimpressed with himself, and patient. With David, even the most cynical media people feel like they get a fair shake. That is all we ask, but David gave so much more.
David’s job is often thankless. Media relations folks are often the subjects of blame – both within their organization and by those covering teams. If that miserable truth ever bothered David, he never let us know it – or held it against us or the Pacers.
Year after year, David and his staff have earned awards from NBA media for the work they do telling the Pacers story and allowing others access to players, coaches, and team executives so other stories could be shared with viewers, readers, and listeners.
The list of people in the media world who have never appeared to exercise a personal agenda is very, very short. David is at the top of that list.
No person can replace David, but the Pacers have hired Michael Preston to succeed him. I’m sure Preston will have no problem filling David’s shoes. All he will need to be is reasonable, good-humored, selfless, honest, fiercely loyal, and utterly fair.
Not too high a bar, is it?