Pacers "Slick" Leonard among hoops greats set for Hall of Fame induction

Cesar Tordesillas – 4E Sports Contributor

Indianapolis, IN, United States (4E Sports) – Bob “Slick” Leonard, the Indiana Pacers’ legendary coach from the American Basketball Association, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in September.

The announcement was made Friday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It took a little while, but we’re going out in style,” said Leonard, who was voted in by the ABA Committee. “For me, it’s a legacy for your children and your grandchildren.”

Leonard led the Pacers to three ABA championships during his career. He currently is in his 29th year with the team as a broadcaster after coaching the team from 1968 to 1980.

A 6’3″ 185 lb (84 kg) guard, Leonard played high school basketball at Terre Haute Gerstmeyer High School, where he excelled as a tennis player, as well. He played collegiate basketball at Indiana University, where he hit the game winning free throws to give Indiana the 1953 NCAA championship.

Selected with the first pick of the second round of the 1954 NBA Draft, Leonard played five years with the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers, followed by two years with the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs. In his final season as a player, he also coached the Zephyrs. The next year, the team moved to Baltimore where Leonard coached them for one more year.

In 1968, Leonard became the coach of the American Basketball Association’s Indiana Pacers, a position he held for nearly 12 years – the last four after the franchise moved to the NBA. For a time, he also served as general manager.

After leading the Pacers to three ABA championships before the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976, he coached the Pacers in its first four years as an NBA team.

The Pacers retired the number 529, pertaining to Leonard’s number of coaching victories, in his honor.

Nat Clifton from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Sarunas Marciulionis from the International Committee, Guy Rodgers from the Veterans Committee and former NBA commissioner David Stern from the Contributor Direct Election Committee are the other Direct Elects.

Six first-time finalists include three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning, 1994 Naismith and NABC Coach of the Year Nolan Richardson, four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, two-time NCAA championship coach Gary Williams and Immaculata University’s AIAW National Championship teams of the early 1970s.

Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood, six-time AAU National Champion coach Harley Redin and six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond.

The entire Class of 2014 will be announced on Monday, April 7.

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