Bobby “Slick” Leonard is a hall of famer. And if you think that will change him, well…you don’t know Slick.
Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night, Slick opened in typical Slick style…his own brand of humble and folksy:
“Well, I may not be the oldest guy that’s ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame. But I’ll bet I’m in the top five.” -Bobby “Slick” Leonard
And only because it was long overdue.
With Pacers President Larry Bird and former player Mel Daniels standing by, both hall of famers in their own right, Leonard talked about his days growing up in Terre Haute, Indiana. He talked about his experience at Indiana University, where he was captain of the 1953 national championship team. He talked about his professional career playing with the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, and he talked about his coaching run, where he led the Pacers to three ABA titles.
Leonard also reflected on the time he and Nancy held a telethon to save the Pacers. And it occurred to me, there are many people we credit for Indianapolis’ status as a sports city: the Georges, the Simons, the Irsays, but the man we should really thank is Slick Leonard. Because without him, there would be no Indiana Pacers. And without the Pacers, there would probably be no Indianapolis Colts.
Slick closed by thanking those nearest and dearest to him. His family. His wife, Nancy, with whom he just celebrated a sixtieth anniversary. And the people of Indiana.
“I’ve had a love affair with the fans and the people in the state of Indiana. We call ourselves the Hoosiers…and I wish it could last forever, but I know better than that.”
From the people of Indiana…congratulations, Slick. And thank you.
Our love and gratitude will last forever.