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So Much More Than “Slick,” Bob Leonard Had A Great Basketball Career

April 17, 2021

Sadly, I never met Bob “Slick” Leonard, who died days back at age 88, and thus could not directly share/inhale his zest for life and his incredibly personable ways.

I knew of his basketball greatness, rooting a great deal for his Indiana Pacers’ teams, who won the most (3) ABA crowns and provided great moments (riding Bill Keller’s heroics to the pivotal game 5 ABA Final win in ’72, with two great “hoops” callers, Jerry Baker with Indiana and Marty Glickman on (the then New York) Nets television behind the microphone) and great players, Roger Brown, Fred Lewis and George McGinnis, to name three.

In addition to the three titles, Leonard guided the upstart Pacers to the ABA Final in ’75, upsetting a dominant regular season Denver Nuggets’ team, before losing in 5 games to the Kentucky Colonels, a soon to be defunct franchise’s only title. The first of 5 final round appearances for Leonard’s Pacers came in the second of the nine ABA seasons (you see Leonard and Indy were in more than half of the ABA final rounds, winning 3)in ’68-’69, when the Rick Barry led and the great coach Alex Hanumn Oakland Oaks (a long since defunct franchise) took the title.

Mr. Leonard also made the decisive free throw, with the score tied and 27 seconds remaining in Indiana University’s title game win vs Kansas in 1953.

He was a long time commentator on Pacers’ broadcasts and did all he can, including organizing a telethon to help save the Pacers’ franchise upon its costly move into the NBA at the start of the ’76-’77 season.

 

Bobby Leonard.jpeg

Bob Leonard, pictured above, also played for the Lakers in their first “L.A. season” and the expansion Chicago Packers who became the Zephyrs then the Bullets and are now known as the Wizards. 

What a career and what a personable man in regard to Mr. Leonard.

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