Bobby "Slick" Leonard
ABA Team: Indiana (1968-69 to 1975-76)
Bob "Slick" Leonard is the cornerstone of the Indiana Pacers franchise. He was the winningest coach in the 9 year history of the ABA. He has 3 ABA Championships and 3 ABA Division Titles to his credit. In addition, Slick took the club to the ABA Finals on 2 other occasions: 5 out of his 8 years he led the team to the ABA Finals. As Coach of the ABA Pacers, he never missed the playoffs. Slick was a 2-Time All-American player for Indiana University. He played 7 years in the NBA for the Minneapolis Lakers, the Chicago Packers, and the Chicago Zephyrs. He is the current Pacers Radio Color Man.
O'Brien's 1970-71 Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball:
|Coaching Record||Regular Season||Playoffs|
in the 1972-73 season, the Pacers visited their biggest rivals,
the Utah Stars. Late in the game won by the Stars, Coach
Slick Leonard felt that the 30-second shot clock had expired
before a Utah basket. After his ranting and raving gained
nothing but two technicals and an ejection, Leonard exploded
in a memorable fit of temper. Shocking the Utah fans, Leonard
ran onto the court, grabbed the red, white and blue basketball,
and punted it far up into the seats. Stars lensman
Bob Rapp was lucky enough to capture the "kicking moment"
in the photo above left. Naturally, the incident resulted
in a significant fine and suspension for Leonard.
Showing a good sense of humor, Stars management turned the tirade into a unique promotion. The next time the Pacers visited Salt Lake City, the Stars put Leonard on the cover of the official game program (left). And, before the game, Stars GM Vince Boryla gave a special gift to the temperamental Pacers coach: he presented Leonard with a framed photo of the incident (photo above right).
In the beginning of the ABA's last season (1975-76), Slick Leonard attempted to improve his relationship with ABA referees. He tried to remain more calm on the bench, and reduced his technical fouls. Needless to say, this didn't last very long as the Pacers battled for a playoff spot near the end of the season.
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