My chat with Bobby “Slick” Leonard on his life, and his new book Boom Baby:
The first time I spoke to Indiana Pacers play-by-play man Mark Boyle was last year when we discussed Reggie Miller’s and Mel Daniels election to the Basketball Hall Of Fame last year. When I asked Mark who else from the Pacers deserved entry into the Hall, Mark gave me a five minute dissertation – I suspect he would’ve gone 50 if we had the time – on his broadcast partner, Bobby Leonard.
Having moved to Indy recently at the time of that interview, I knew more about Leonard Part 6 than Bobby Leonard. After further review, Mr. Boyle is right – it is a (sports cliche warning!) crime that Bobby Leonard is not in the Naismath,
Mr. Leonard professes to not care, and I believe him. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. Since the Hall’s voting process is about as closed as (insert euphemism for tightness), we can only assume the worst – that there continues to be pervasive anti-ABA sentiment on the part of the mystery voters. Why else would a man who won three ABA titles and took two other teams to the finals not be in the Hall?
“The ABA wasn’t as good as the NBA.” Sure it wasn’t. Though smaller, the quality of basketball may have been better top-to-bottom than the NBA during the ABA’s later years.
Also, Naismath Hall induction is supposed to incorporate it’s members’ entire basketball lives. Leonard may have only been good and not great as an NBA player, averaging 10 points a game over seven seasons, but he won a national title at IU, was a third-team All-American as a junior and a second-team AA’er as a senior. I won’t bother going through the list of HOF’ers with chintzier resumes.
Mr. Leonard is a delight, and if nothing else, we dredge up the old word that used to be used when you were pursuing your mate – courtship. Going courtin’ probably means something completely different now. Oh, something else we dredge up…this…Heller jingle, baby! You’re welcome Buster Bodine and Cris Conner.