Slick Leonard is a Hall of Famer, and the ABA was the real thing.


It is noteworthy that in Kelly Dwyer’s homage to Slick Leonard, he establishes American Basketball Association context with a reference to Terry Pluto’s Loose Balls, one of my favorite sports books ever.

For those of us who grew up with the rivalry between Leonard’s Indiana Pacers and the nearby Kentucky Colonels, no introduction is necessary.

The Indy Star covers Leonard’s Hall of Fame induction.

Slick Leonard is a Hall of Famer, by Kelly Dwyer (Ball Don’t Lie)

It shouldn’t have to take a purchase of a book, or a move to his home state, to make you aware of the existence of one Bobby “Slick” Leonard, but sometimes you’re lucky enough to have the introduction forced upon you.

If you’ve read Terry Pluto’s “Loose Balls ,” there’s no doubt that the aside about the former Indiana Pacers coach captured your fascination. The images of the former NBA coaching washout that used to dribble the ball up and down the train tracks as an Indianan youth in years prior to downing “a few dozen beers” with players before putting them through the literal paces in practice the next day, screaming and yelling and eventually winning them over. Tilting at big man Mel Daniels while drawing a chalk line some three feet from the goal and telling him never to shoot outside of it. Railing at his players for calling each other racial slurs while still allowing them to (literally) bring western-style guns and holsters into the locker room to play cowboys and Indians. Making it mandatory that his players get together for a drink after the game, whether the tipple was “apple juice” or something stronger.

Also, winning those three ABA championships, the most in league history.