Sad, sad day in the Hoosier state and for basketball. Slick Leonard is Indiana basketball through and through.
He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was a part of the 1953 Indiana Hoosiers team that won a national title. He was the coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1968-1980 where he won three ABA championships and quite literally along with his wife Nancy saved the franchise with the legendary Pacers telethon in 1977.
Seriously, without their efforts with that telethon the Indiana Pacers would not exist today as is. In 1985 he joined the Pacers broadcast crew and has been a part of it ever since offering the iconic "Boom Baby!" call during games whenever the Pacers would hit a three. When I think of the Pacers I think of two people: Reggie Miller and Slick Leonard. He was kind of like the basketball grandpa for all of us Pacers fans. He was a man of the people. A lot of times before and after games it wouldn't be a surprise to see Slick strolling through the concourse at Bankers Life always willing to take a photo and chat a bit about his beloved Pacers.
His basketball career came full circle with his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014. So many memorable moments growing up a Pacers fan with Reggie hitting a big shot and Slick hollering "Boom Baby!". Plenty of renovations are being made around Bankers Life Fieldhouse in preparation for what would have been the 2021 NBA All-Star game that will now be hosted in 2024. I think all Pacers fans, and Hoosiers, can agree that a statue to the icon of Indiana basketball should be now added as a part of those renovations.
Slick Leonard was 88. Rest in peace.