Simply put, the Indiana Pacers would not exist without the legendary life and accomplishments of Slick. While his passing marks a sad and solemn time in team history, his life’s impact on the franchise and city of Indianapolis will remain for many generations to come.
Leonard grew up in Terre Haute and played for Indiana University in the early 1950’s, highlighted by making the game-winning free throws to lock up IU’s 1953 NCAA championship.
After an eight year professional playing career (that included surviving a plane crash), Slick turned to coaching where he would deliver a Hall of Fame impact on the game in general and Indiana in particular. His ABA teams were legendary both on and off the court, winning three ABA championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973. His 529 wins will always be remembered in the rafters at the Fieldhouse.
When the Pacers’ transition from the ABA to NBA stalled the franchise Slick teamed up with his wife Nancy to hold a local telethon (check out the 30 for 30 short). They were able to sell over 8,000 tickets and keep the franchise afloat.
After Slick was done coaching, he turned into one of the most colorful color radio commentators in NBA history. As Reggie Miller’s Hall of Fame career ascended, radio listeners knew his three-point shot splashed when Mark Boyle would lay out for Slick to exclaim, “Boom, baby!”
Please share your fondest memories of Slick in the comments.