Scott Agness: Pacers will honor Slick Leonard with this addition to their uniform for the rest of the season. He passed away a week ago. (via @Indiana Pacers) pic.twitter.com/Qzsy87MkzM
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“We don’t want it to be funereal or maudlin,” Mark Boyle said. “He was 88, he lived a great life, and we don’t want to turn this into a tragedy. What we want to say is yes, we’re sad and we’re heartbroken, but this is a celebration of a life well-lived. This man is an icon and he’s touched so many people in his life. And yes, out of the breaks, we’ll probably play several ‘Boom, Baby’s’ and other Slick-isms.’” Yes, Boom, Baby. Pacers of an older generation remember Slick as the hard-driving coach who led the Pacers to three ABA championships and reached the finals five times, who won a franchise-record 529 games and earned a spot — finally — in the Basketball Hall of Fame. But for a younger group, Slick was best known for his exclamatory “Boom, Baby!’” every time a Pacer hit a 3-point basket. Slick was much deeper than any catchphrase — he was a basketball genius — but he forged a connection with a new generation with his excitable trademark. In fact, Reggie Miller’s production company is named Boom Baby Productions.
Nobody is quite sure where Boom, Baby came from; it’s a bit like the etymology of the term “Hoosier.” One time, Boyle asked Slick about it and Slick wasn’t quite sure, but there were two options that he could recall as possibilities. “This is what he told me,” Boyle said. “It was a playoff game (when he was coaching) and Billy Keller hit a shot. Nobody remembers when or against whom, but Billy hit the shot and as they were running off the floor, Slick yelled ‘Boom, Baby!’ “Now, the second version I’ve heard is that he was drawing up the play and said, ‘Billy, then you’ll get the ball, shoot it, then Boom, baby! and we’re out of here.’
Tim Bontemps: Indiana native Brad Stevens sums up the loss of Pacers legend Slick Leonard: “He was our Tommy Heinsohn.”
Kyle Goon: Frank Vogel starts off his comments today by recognizing the death of Slick Leonard, the all-time winningest Pacers coach. “Slick really took me under his wing as a young coach … provided great friendship and support.”
Kyle Goon: Vogel mentions that Slick Leonard “always had strong opinions about Lance Stephenson” and “was always a big Lance guy,” which makes me want to ask approximately 1000 follow-ups.
Tony East: Nate Bjorkgren on the passing of Slick Leonard: “He meant so much to Indiana basketball. He’s an Indiana legend; a Pacers legend. The Pacers might not exist today without him.”
NBA Communications: The NBA mourns the passing of Hall of Famer Bobby “Slick” Leonard, a beloved member of the Indiana Pacers organization for more than 50 years. A hard-nosed player, legendary coach and insightful broadcaster, Bobby had a profound impact on the game. Condolences to his loved ones.
Scott Agness: Hall of Famer Slick Leonard has passed away, league sources tell @FieldhouseFiles. He was 88.
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May 8, 2021 | 8:15 pm EDT Update
It sure sounded as if Vildoza, currently in Spain, won’t be activated for the playoffs. Sources said Thibodeau was on board with the signing of the Spanish League combo guard, even if he never has seemed overly enthusiastic about overseas players. According to sources, getting through immigration amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be a process, but Vildoza will join the team in New York once he’s cleared by government officials.
Josh Robbins: The Magic have listed Wendell Carter Jr. (eye abrasion) as questionable to play Sunday against the Timberwolves. Listed as out are Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Chuma Okeke, Otto Porter Jr. and Terrence Ross.
Scott Agness: Pacers forward JaKarr Sampson, who suffered a concussion on Apr. 29 from a Blake Griffin elbow, is back on the bench with the team for the first time (not in uniform). That’s a good sign.