You may make the argument that with out the efforts of Bobby and Nancy Leonard in 1977 to avoid wasting the Indiana Pacers from extinction, the town of Indianapolis would stay “India-no-place” to these outdoors the state.
Without the Pacers remaining within the NBA, the town wouldn’t have constructed the Hoosier Dome hoping to lure an NFL crew. That purpose was achieved in 1984 when Indianapolis mayor William Hudnut led the hassle to deliver the Colts from Baltimore.
Indianapolis most likely additionally wouldn’t be the house base for the NCAA and eight Final Four males’s basketball tournaments since 1980. Indianapolis wouldn’t have been the selection, both, to stage the whole 2021 match when the NCAA was trying to maintain its largest moneymaker in a single metropolis because of the COVID pandemic.
Bobby Leonard died Tuesday at age 88. Most immediately bear in mind him for his colourful evaluation on Pacers radio video games. “Boom child!” was his signature name when Pacers similar to Reggie Miller would knock down a giant 3-pointer.
Before that although, Leonard was the face of the Pacers within the American Basketball Association days. The crimson, white and blue basketball and the 3-point rule was meant to separate the ABA from the stodgy NBA, which was a far much less athletic recreation within the Sixties.
Leonard wanted solely two seasons after taking on the Pacers job in 1968 to deliver the primary of three ABA championships to Indianapolis. I used to be in grade college again then however due to video games on WTHR with Don Hein, the names stay younger whereas the lads themselves have handed retirement age or gone to their reward.
Roger Brown. Mel Daniels. Freddie Lewis. Bob Netolicky. Billy Keller. Rick Mount. Darnell Hillman and his afro. And perhaps the perfect Pacer of all of them, George McGinnis.
“He personified Pacers basketball for generations of Hoosier households,” Pacers house owners Herb and Steve Simon stated in a press release honoring Bobby Leonard. “With a charisma, depth and wit to match his nickname, Slick made us champions.”
Leonard was a part of the Pacers group for greater than 50 years, successful 529 video games from 1968 to 1980. Leonard was voted the ABA’s All-Time coach by a bunch of nationwide sportswriters and broadcasters.
He obtained the last word basketball honor in 2014, election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Leonard is joined there by three of his gamers: Brown, Daniels and McGinnis.
Leonard was already a basketball hero in Indiana, captain of the 1953 Indiana nationwide championship crew and earlier than {that a} standout guard for Terre Haute Gerstmeyer High School.
But July 4, 1977, cemented his legacy.
One of 4 ABA groups that merged with the NBA a 12 months earlier, the Pacers have been having monetary difficulties. Ownership set a purpose of promoting 8,000 season tickets or else the Pacers would fold or be bought and moved to a different metropolis.
Nancy Leonard spearheaded the telethon, which was organized in lower than two weeks and held on the Convention Center. Local TV sports activities persona Chet Coppock shared internet hosting duties with the Leonards and with minutes to go earlier than the telethon was scheduled to finish, a tearful Nancy Leonard made the announcement that the season ticket purpose had been reached.
The Pacers have been saved. So was Indianapolis’ future.

Hoosier Hysteria’s most interesting
In case anybody doubts Leonard’s taking part in credentials, he was chosen 53rd on an inventory of the highest 68 males’s faculty basketball gamers of all-time from Indiana.
Go and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame put collectively the record together with the 2021 NCAA match. To qualify for choice, a participant needed to have been born, raised and/or attended highschool within the state.
Rankings have been based mostly on statistics, honors, historic significance and significance to their college’s program.
At No. 58, Don Buse of Holland, Ind., and the University of Evansville was considered one of three gamers on the record to have been coached by Leonard in skilled basketball. The others have been George McGinnis and Rick Mount.
To offer you an thought of how deep the highest 68 goes, highschool legend Bobby Plump got here in at No. 61.
Former Carmel nice Billy Shepherd is 56th on the record. Shepherd nonetheless owns Butler’s season scoring common report of 27.8 factors per recreation in addition to the profession mark of 24.1.
Montgomery County legend Homer Stonebraker was voted twenty first on the record. Stonebraker not solely led Wingate High School to 2 state basketball championships in 1913 and 1914, he was a three-time All-American at Wabash College.
Purdue has 10 gamers within the high 68: Rick Mount (fifth), Glenn Robinson (seventh), Charles “Stretch” Murphy (eleventh), Kyle Macy (twelfth), Terry Dischinger (18th), Dave Schellhase (nineteenth), John Wooden (twenty second), Troy Lewis (thirtieth), JaJuan Johnson (thirty fifth) and E’Twaun Moore (51st).
More than 50 years after his last collegiate basketball recreation, Mount stays the gold commonplace for Indiana-born shooters. In simply three varsity seasons, Mount scored 2,323 factors – a Purdue report that also stands. With Mount, Purdue reached the NCAA title recreation in 1969 in opposition to Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and UCLA.
Robinson was the unanimous winner of the John R. Wooden and Naismith awards as nationwide participant of the 12 months in 1994. That season, Robinson averaged 30.3 factors and 11.2 rebounds whereas carrying Purdue to the Elite Eight.
Murphy was one of many recreation’s first nice large males, standing 6-6 when he starred for Purdue and Piggy Lambert from 1928-30. Murphy was a three-time All-American and helped lead the Boilermakers to an undisputed Big Ten title in 1930 with a 10-0 report.
Macy solely performed one season for the Boilermakers, averaging 13.8 factors a recreation earlier than transferring to Kentucky. He helped the Wildcats win the nationwide championship in 1978.
Dischinger was a standout on the 1960 United States Olympic basketball crew and concluded his Purdue profession in 1962 with profession averages of 28.3 factors and 13.7 rebounds. Dischinger was a two-time consensus All-American.
Schellhase adopted Dischinger within the Purdue lineup and led the nation in scoring as a senior in 1966 at 32.5 factors a recreation and was a consensus All-American
Wooden was the primary faculty basketball participant ever to be chosen a three-time consensus All-American (1930-32). Lewis scored 2,038 factors whereas main the Boilermakers to back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1987 and 1988.
Moore scored 2,136 factors for Matt Painter at Purdue earlier than embarking on an extended NBA profession. Johnson starred alongside Moore, incomes consensus All-American honors as a senior in 2011 to go together with Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. Johnson additionally was Purdue’s first winner of the Pete Newell National Big Man of the Year Award.
As with any record proclaiming the perfect ever to do one thing, there are quibbles with the Go toIndiana/Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s Top 10.
No arguments right here with the 2 finest ever: Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird. Clyde Lovellette at No. 3 was properly earlier than my time however his credentials at Kansas after graduating from Terre Haute Garfield are impeccable.
But Steve Alford at No. 4? No means is Alford a greater participant than Mount, Robinson and George McGinnis, who is just too low at No. 10 on the record. I would even argue that Calbert Cheaney (No. 6) and Kent Benson (No. 8) have been higher gamers than Alford. Another former IU nice, Don Schlundt, was voted ninth.

Kenny Thompson is the previous sports activities editor for the Lafayette Journal & Courier and an award-winning journalist. He has coated Purdue athletics for a few years.