INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana Pacers legend Bobby "Slick'' Leonard passed away Tuesday at the age of 88 years old.
Leonard attended Indiana University in Bloomington, where he won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1953. He also coached the Indiana Pacers from 1968-80, and after his playing and coaching career, became a color commentator for the Pacers.
"Pacers fans will remember Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard as the spirit of our franchise," Pacers owner Herb Simon said. "With a charisma, intensity, and wit to match his nickname, Slick made us champions. He was our biggest fan and our most loving critic, and he personified Pacers basketball for generations of Hoosier families.
"Most importantly, though, Slick and Nancy are our family, and his passing leaves an unfillable void in the hearts of everyone associated with this organization. We keep the entire Leonard family in our prayers, and we recognize and honor Slick for what he meant to our state both on and off the court.”
The Leonard family released a statement Tuesday after his passing.
"Dad passed away in his sleep this morning. He had been struggling with numerous ailments for some time. We are so thankful that he passed peacefully. On behalf of Mom and Dad, our family extends a heartfelt thank you for the incredible, lifelong support of so many friends, Hoosier basketball fans, the Pacers and Indiana University. Gratefully, The Leonard Family"
“When you think of the Indiana Pacers, you think of Slick Leonard,” said Larry Bird, former Pacers president and a close friend of Leonard’s. Leonard served the organization for 50 years.
In 2014, Leonard became a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was an Indiana legend.
Here's what they're saying about Leonard's passing: