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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers organization held a Celebration of Life ceremony on Sunday for George McGinnis. The former ABA MVP passed away back in December from cardiac arrest.
Beginning at 2 p.m. fans from all over were invited to attend this ceremony honoring the life, legacy, and achievements of an Indianapolis basketball mainstay.
Figures from all over were in attendance including:
– Mayor Joe Hogsett
– Governor Eric Holcomb
– Former Pacer and broadcaster Clark Kellogg
– IU Head Coach Mike Woodson
– Nancy Leonard
– Documentarian Ted Green
– McGinnis’s High-School Teammate Jim Arnold
– Pacers Head-Coach Rick Carlisle.
Pacers play-by-play radio commentator Mark Boyle served as the M.C. for the event.
Many of those above gave speeches throughout the event. Starting off was McGinnis’s high-school teammate Jim Arnold who told multiple stories regarding their growing up years and how the two became members of each other’s families.
Mayor Joe Hogsett spoke next at the event and recalled the memory of watching McGinnis and his undefeated Washington High School team win a state championship. “In its simplest form a champion wins championships,” said Hogsett, “but a champion like Big George. I think he requires a broader definition.” Mayor Hogsett would go on to provide a detailed account of what it took for McGinnis and his teammates to accomplish their undefeated season.
Later in the ceremony former Indiana Pacer Clark Kellogg stepped on stage to deliver his remarks regarding his friends legacy. The two players missed each other on the Pacers roster by one year. With McGinnis retiring with Indiana before the 1982 season, when Kellogg was drafted. “Our lives are blessed and shaped by the books we read, the experiences we have, and the people we encounter.” said Kellogg. “My life, and I know with all of my heart, that all of your lives were enhanced and enriched greatly by our encounters with George and whatever form that encounter took place.” Kellogg would detail his 30-year friendship with McGinnis and how no matter how much time had passed McGinnis would always answer Kellog’s calls with his nickname for him, “Log-head.”
Nancy Leonard, former Pacers GM and wife to the late Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the last to give remarks. The 91-year-old matriarch of the Leonard family spoke fondly of McGinnis as everyone prior to her had, but she specifically detailed the impact and reach of his kindness toward others. She read the letter of a 10-year-old boy from Sacramento who had written to her after hearing of McGinnis passing. The boy was lucky enough to have met George after a Pacers win in California.
The hour-long celebration of life was filled with memories as the ceremony opened with a video montage featuring George McGinnis making his trademark one-hand jump shot. It was packed with laughs as nearly every speaker had a story involving some joke McGinnis had pulled on or with them. It had its fair share of emotion as some speakers needed a moment to collect themselves. All together it was a fitting tribute to a man who many noted may be one of the biggest influencers in not just Indiana basketball history, but Indiana sports history.
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