David Benner, who served as the director of media relations for the Indiana Pacers for nearly three decades, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 67. He had been battling cancer for 10 years, according to reports. Benner was a respected and beloved figure in the NBA and the Indianapolis community, having started his career as a sportswriter for The Indianapolis Star before joining the Pacers in 1994.
A Stellar Sportswriter
Benner began his journalism career as a copy boy for The Indianapolis Star in 1979 and worked his way up to cover some of the biggest beats in sports, including the Pacers, the Colts, the Hoosiers, and the Indy 500. He was known for his insightful and engaging stories, his professionalism and integrity, and his passion for sports and writing. He won several awards for his work, including the Indiana Sportswriter of the Year in 1992.
A Trusted Media Relations Director
In 1994, Benner made a rare career switch and joined the Pacers as their director of media relations. He was responsible for handling the communication and publicity of the team, as well as building relationships with the players, coaches, staff, media, and fans. He was instrumental in promoting the Pacers brand and enhancing their reputation in the league and the community. He was also a mentor and a friend to many people in the industry and beyond.
Benner witnessed some of the most memorable moments in Pacers history, such as the Reggie Miller era, the Malice at the Palace, the Paul George comeback, and the recent rise of Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon. He also faced some of the most challenging situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the social justice movement, and the relocation of the All-Star Game. Through it all, he remained calm, professional, and supportive of the team and the organization.
Benner retired from his position in 2022, after 28 years of service. He was honored by the Pacers with a retirement ceremony, where he received a framed jersey, a video tribute, and a standing ovation from the crowd. He also received a letter from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who praised him for his contributions to the league and the game.
A Kind and Decent Man
Benner was not only a talented and experienced professional, but also a wonderfully kind and decent man, according to those who knew him. He was humble, generous, loyal, and compassionate. He cared deeply about his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his community. He was also a man of faith, who relied on God for strength and guidance.
Benner is survived by his wife, Cathy, his son, David Jr., his daughter, Lauren, his grandchildren, and his extended family. He is also remembered by countless people who were touched by his life and his legacy.
A Lasting Impact
Benner’s death has sparked an outpouring of grief and condolences from the Pacers organization, the NBA community, the media fraternity, and the fans. Many people have shared their stories and memories of Benner, as well as their appreciation and admiration for him. They have also expressed their prayers and support for his family and loved ones.
Benner’s impact on the Pacers franchise, the NBA, and the Indianapolis community is undeniable and immeasurable. He was a legend, a pioneer, and a role model. He was a part of the Pacers family, and he will be greatly missed.