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Larry Staverman, at 70, 1st coach of Indiana Pacers

Larry Staverman coached the Kansas City Kings during the 1977-78 season, posting an 18-27 record. Larry Staverman coached the Kansas City Kings during the 1977-78 season, posting an 18-27 record. (Steve Pyle/Associated Press/File 1978)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Larry Staverman, who was the first coach of the Indiana Pacers when the team started as an American Basketball Association franchise, died Wednesday after a long illness. He was 70.

The Pacers hired Mr. Staverman in 1967, before the team's inaugural season, after he had played in the NBA for five seasons and then was an assistant coach at Notre Dame for two years. The Pacers finished 38-40 in their first season, but Mr. Staverman was fired and replaced by Bobby "Slick" Leonard after a 2-7 start the following year.

"By being our first coach, he was a believer in the franchise at a time when there were many doubters," Pacers chief executive Donnie Walsh said in a statement. "That is something we recognize and hope our fans recognize. Our condolences go to his family and friends."

Mr. Staverman played in the NBA beginning in 1958 with the Cincinnati Royals, Chicago Zephyrs- Baltimore Bullets, and Detroit Pistons, averaging 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. He also coached the Kansas City Kings during the 1977-78 season, posting an 18-27 record.

He leaves his wife, Joyce; two sons; four daughters; and 13 grandchildren.

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