A legendary Indiana basketball athlete and personality, Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard, died Tueday. He was 88.
IU men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson released a statement on the Hoosier great, who was a two-time All-American, Big Ten champion, and a key piece in IU’s 1953 national championship run.
After seven seasons as a professional basketball player, Leonard coached the Pacers in the ABA and NBA for 12 seasons. He then spent 35 years as a radio announcer for the Pacers.
“Slick has meant so much to me for such a long time,” Woodson said. “He has meant as much as anyone in the state of Indiana when it comes to the game of basketball. He played the game with great flair. He coached with undeniable passion. His smile put everyone at ease. The man was a champion through and through whether it was with the Pacers organization or at Indiana University.
“Without question, he was a Hall of Fame human being. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loving wife, Nancy, their children and everyone he touched on a daily basis.”
IU athletic director Scott Dolson also released a statement. It was Leonard who hit the winning free throw in the Hoosiers’ win over Kansas in the 1953 title game.
“I am heartbroken by the passing of Slick, and my heart goes out to his wife, Nancy, and the entire Leonard family,” Dolson said. “He was a Hoosier basketball legend, but more than anything, he was a Hoosier legend. Slick has been one of our state’s most beloved basketball figures for seven decades, someone who loved the game and dedicated his life to it.
“In addition to loving the sport of basketball, Slick and Nancy also loved IU. There was no alum that I enjoyed seeing more when he returned for a game than him. His stories were priceless and endless. He will be dearly missed.”