BOOM, BABY! Boom! Boom! Boom! BOOM!
The news today just confirms what everyone in Indiana has known for a long time. Bobby "Slick" Leonard is a Hall of Famer.
The Naismith Hall of Fame announced on Friday that our beloved Slick will be inducted as part of the Hoop Hall's 2014 class.
Slick has spent the bulk of his 81 years on this planet involved in the game of basketball after growing up in Terre Haute, then playing at Indiana University where he assumed a big role on the 1953 NCAA Championship team. Slick came through in the clutch for the Hoosiers making the game-winning free throw late in the title game to help seal the championship under coach Branch McCracken. The next season Leonard was a second-team All-American which sent him to the NBA where he played for seven seasons.
Slick's involvement in basketball turned to the sidelines when his playing days were done. It didn't take long before Slick was coaching at a Hall of Fame level while guiding a tough and talented group of Indiana Pacers to three ABA championships with his own unique style that steered clear of bull shit and focused each individual on the team (hmm, sounds familiar). The stories about those teams on and off the court were legendary and Slick orchestrated everything to push a diverse group of bad asses to play at a championship level.
After the NBA/ABA merger, the Pacers initially struggled to make ends meet financially so Slick spearheaded a telethon to keep the Pacers up and running for their second NBA season and the effort hit the goal of selling 8000 season tickets. He remained a key figure keeping the team in Indy until the Simon brothers finally came to the rescue in the early '80's.
Slick then moved into "contributor to the game" Hall of Famer mode as he eventually joined Mark Boyle adding his unique spectrum of color commentary to Pacers radio broadcasts. His incredible basketball knowledge and folksy delivery cemented his status as a revered figure in Indiana and an ambassador for the NBA in Indiana.
As the Pacers developed into a perennial playoff team in the 90's led by Reggie Miller, the radio broadcasts became the soundtrack for a decade of NBA hoops. Slick's signature "Boom, baby!" call after every Reggie three-pointer was enough to combine with his entertaining analysis to make him a Hall of Famer as a broadcaster, as well.
So, yeah. Slick Leonard is a Hall of Famer.
About time they made it official.
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