Netolicky's main offenses against Midwestern proprieties, other than occasionally missing his driving hook shot, are that he is the only person ever pulled over in Indianapolis for driving a dune buggy with improper registration and that his steady date, Gail Gibson, a local girl who attended college on the West Coast, wears long straight blonde hair, elephant bell-bottoms and Indian headbands. He does not have a llama rug in his apartment or a bottle of Scotch in his glove compartment. He is strictly a beer drinker. One lady fan said of him recently, "Neto's got the sexiest teeth in the ABA," whatever that means.
The trade that brought 6'9" Mel Daniels to Indiana from Minnesota was the most lopsided in the ABA's short history. The Pacers gave up two players who are no longer in the league, a draft choice and cash for Daniels, who immediately turned Indiana into a contender and was last season's Most Valuable Player. He is the second best re-bounder this year behind Denver's Spencer Haywood and he shoots fall-away jumpers with exceptional accuracy.
Daniels does not have all the extraordinary physical assets of the best NBA centers, but he is a fiercely competitive, driven man who often finds it difficult to sleep after games. Between 3 and 5 on those restless mornings Daniels has written nearly 300 poems about subjects like growing up—which he did in a tough section of Detroit—or the attractions of Albuquerque, N. Mex., where he attended college and lives in the off season.
"I read two of my poems on the radio a while ago and a couple of hundred people wrote in and asked for copies," Daniels says. "I had them printed up and sent them to the people, but I'd rather not do that. My poems are personal, too personal to publish. They're just a means for me to clear my mind. My favorite poet is Poe. He's my man. He was able to show how common people feel. The Bells, that's my favorite poem of his."
With Rick Mount, the poet, the swinger and the undertaker's rep, the Pacers are going to ring a lot of bells around the league for a long time.