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 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Larry Staverman, who was the first coach of the Indiana Pacers when they started as an ABA franchise, died Wednesday after a long illness. He was 70.
The Pacers hired Staverman in 1967 before their 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 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 CEO Donnie Walsh said in a statement. ``That is something we recognize and hope our fans recognize. Our condolences go to his family and friends.''
He played in the NBA beginning in 1958 with the Cincinnati Royals, Chicago Zephrys/Baltimore Bullets and Detroit Pistons, averaging 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. He also coached the New York Knicks during the 1977-78 season, posting an 18-27 record.
Survivors include his wife, Joyce; two sons; four daughters and 13 grandchildren.

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