TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Bobby “Slick” Leonard was a Terre Haute native, who attended Gerstmeyer High School in the 1950s.
Ray Goddard, also a Gerstmeyer basketball alum said he was someone Terre Haute athletes could look up to.
“He did a lot of great things for Terre Haute for juniors and kids,” he said. “They all admired him as a great player and athlete. He always represented our city in a great way.”
Leonard later attended Indiana University where he led the Hoosiers to a national championship in 1953. He then became a member of the Minneapolis-Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA.
The basketball icon went on to coach the Indiana Pacers for 12 years and earned 3 ABA championships.
Bobby “Slick” Leonard was also known to many for his broadcasting career and his signature saying “Boom, Baby!” after the Pacers made a three-pointer.
Jeremiah Johnson, Pacers host said he learned a lot from Leonard over the years.
“Every time I talked with Slick Leonard, I learned a new story. He was just someone you wanted to be around,” Johnson said. “I loved hearing the stories. I loved hearing what he had to say and I just loved being around Slick Leonard. He will be missed.”
Goddard said in his eyes Slick is one of the best athletes to come out of Indiana.
“The reason he’s called ‘Slick’ is because he was a pretty cagey guy both on and off the court. He was that kind of guy that you’d want to be around. He always treated everybody very good. I don’t think anybody ever disliked the guy,” he explained.
Johnson said he’s paved the way for many to come.
“He was the person that tied to together so many generations of Pacers basketball. When you think about the glory days and then the fact that the franchise might not be here today,” he noted. “If not for Slick and Nancy Leonard. You really understand how much he meant to this state and the game that we all love.”
Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett issued a statement on Leonard’s passing:
“It was sad to hear of the passing of Bobby “Slick” Leonard today. He was a great professional basketball player and coach and he never forgot his Terre Haute roots. Bobby was also a good friend of my father and I had the pleasure of visiting with him on many occasions. As a radio broadcaster, I loved hearing him say “Boom Baby” every time the Pacers would hit a tree point shot. He was a true Terre Haute sports legend!”