Bobby Leonard
Leonard, circa 1962
Personal information
Born(1932-07-17)July 17, 1932
Terre Haute, Indiana
DiedApril 13, 2021(2021-04-13) (aged 88)
Indianapolis, Indiana
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolGerstmeyer (Terre Haute, Indiana)
CollegeIndiana (1951–1954)
NBA draft1954 / Round: 2 / Pick: 10th overall
Selected by the Baltimore Bullets
Playing career1956–1963
PositionPoint guard
Number21
Coaching career1962–1964, 1968–1980
Career history
As player:
19561961Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers
19611963Chicago Packers / Zephyrs
As coach:
19621964Chicago Zephyrs / Baltimore Bullets
19681980Indiana Pacers
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As coach:

Career playing statistics
Points4,204 (9.9 ppg)
Rebounds1,217 (2.9 rpg)
Assists1,427 (3.3 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at Basketball-Reference.com
Career coaching record
NBA & ABA573–534 (.518)
Basketball Hall of Fame as coach

William Robert "Slick" Leonard[1] (July 17, 1932 – April 13, 2021) was an American professional basketball player, coach and color commentator. He played college basketball for the Indiana Hoosiers, where he was a two-time All-American and a member of their national championship squad in 1953. After playing professionally in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Leonard coached the Indiana Pacers to three American Basketball Association (ABA) championships. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014.

Early life

Leonard was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on July 17, 1932. He attended Gerstmeyer High School.[2] There, he played high school basketball as a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), 185 lb (84 kg) guard, and also excelled as a tennis player. He went on to play collegiate basketball at Indiana University Bloomington, where he hit the game winning free throw to give the Hoosiers the 1953 NCAA championship. While at Indiana, he became a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity.[3] He was named a third-team All-American in 1953 and selected to the second team the following season.[2]

Professional career

Playing career

Leonard was selected by the Baltimore Bullets with the first pick of the second round (tenth overall) of the 1954 NBA draft.[2] He spent most of his seven-year professional playing career with the Lakers (four years in Minneapolis, and one year following the team's move to Los Angeles), followed by two years with the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs). He led the NBA in games played (72) in 1956–57. His best season came in 1961–62, in which he finished sixth in the NBA in assists per game (5.4) and eighth in assists (378).[2] In his final season as a player, he also coached the Zephyrs. The team moved to Baltimore the following year; Leonard coached them for one more year.[2][4]

Coaching career with the Pacers

Five years after coaching the Bullets, Leonard became the coach of the ABA's Indiana Pacers, a position he held for nearly 12 years – the last four after the franchise moved to the NBA. For a time, he also served as general manager. Leonard led the Pacers to three ABA championships before the ABA–NBA merger in June 1976. However, the Pacers were nearly gutted in order to meet the financial burdens imposed by the merger, and he was never able to put together a winning team during the Pacers' first four years as an NBA team. [1][4]

Color commentary

"Boom baby" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Baby boom (disambiguation).

Leonard returned to the Pacers in 1985 as a color commentator, first for television with Jerry Baker, then on radio with Mark Boyle on WFNI 1070 AM. His trademark phrase is "Boom, baby!" for a successful three-point field goal by a Pacers player.[1][5] According to an interview Leonard gave to Carmel Monthly magazine,“BOOM BABY” was hatched when Leonard was coaching the Pacers in the seventh game of the semi-finals of the 1975 American Basketball Association (ABA) playoffs. Denver held a 2-point lead with seconds left, and the Pacers got the ball to George McGinnis in the low post for a potential tying basket. But McGinnis kicked the ball out to a wide-open Billy Keller in the far corner. Game, set, Boom Baby. “Billy drilled it, and I shouted “BOOM BABY,” Leonard recalled.[citation needed]

Later life

Leonard suffered a heart attack on March 13, 2011, shortly after a Pacers' road victory over the New York Knicks.[6] He was later said to be in good condition, but was given an indefinite time to recover, and was filled in for by Pacers TV analyst and former player Austin Croshere.[7]

Leonard was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014.[8] He became the first individual to be inducted into the Indiana University Sports Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and Indiana Sports Writers and Broadcasters Hall of Fame.[5]

Leonard sustained three falls in 2018. The first in January shattered his left hip, while the second in June resulted in a broken left wrist. After his third fall in late December, he took a hiatus from calling games, before coming back on February 28, 2019.[1] He died on April 13, 2021, at the age of 88.[1][5]

Head coaching record

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Chicago 1962–63 42 13 29 .310 5th in Western Missed playoffs
Baltimore 1963–64 80 31 49 .388 4th in Western Missed playoffs
Indiana 1968–69 69 42 27 .609 1st in Western 17 9 8 .529 Lost in ABA Finals
Indiana 1969–70 84 59 25 .702 1st in Eastern 15 12 3 .800 Won ABA Championship
Indiana 1970–71 84 58 26 .690 1st in Western 11 7 4 .636 Lost in Division Finals
Indiana 1971–72 84 47 37 .560 2nd in Western 20 12 8 .600 Won ABA Championship
Indiana 1972–73 84 51 33 .607 2nd in Western 11 12 6 .667 Won ABA Championship
Indiana 1973–74 84 46 38 .548 2nd in Western 14 7 7 .500 Lost in Division Finals
Indiana 1974–75 84 45 39 .536 3rd in Western 16 9 9 .500 Lost in ABA Finals
Indiana 1975–76 84 39 45 .464 5th in ABA 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
Indiana 1976–77 82 36 46 .439 5th in Midwest Missed playoffs
Indiana 1977–78 82 31 51 .378 5th in Midwest Missed playoffs
Indiana 1978–79 82 38 44 .463 3rd in Midwest Missed playoffs
Indiana 1979–80 82 37 45 .451 4th in Central Missed playoffs
Career 1,107 573 534 .518   116 69 47 .595  

Source:[4]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Keefer, Zak; Michael, J. (April 13, 1986). "Bobby 'Slick' Leonard, Hoosiers and Pacers icon, dies at 88". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Slick Leonard Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  3. ^ The Rainbow, vol. 132, no. 2, p. 14,
  4. ^ a b c "Slick Leonard". Basketball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Marot, Michael (April 13, 2020). "Bobby 'Slick' Leonard, 88, Pacers Hall of Fame coach, dies". Associated Press. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  6. ^ http://www.wthr.com/story/14246421/pacers-bob-leonard-has-heart-attack
  7. ^ http://www.indystar.com/proart/20110314/sports04/103140360/pacers-slick-leonard-recovering-from-heart-attack
  8. ^ "Five Direct-Elect Members Announced for the Class of 2014 by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame" (Press release). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. February 14, 2014. Retrieved April 13, 2021.