Slick Leonard documentary in the works
Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard is an iconic name – and voice – in Indiana basketball history. A Hoosier his entire life, the Terre Haute native has excelled at all different levels, right here in Indiana.
Leonard played collegiately at Indiana University and hit crucial free throws to propel the Hoosiers to their second NCAA National Championship. After playing seven years in the NBA — with stops in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Chicago — Leonard went into coaching. As the head coach of the Pacers from 1968-80, his teams won three ABA titles (’70, ’72, and ’73). Five years after he left the Pacers’ bench, he joined the team for broadcasts as a commentator and he’s maintained that role ever since.
Ted Green, a journalist turned filmmaker, wants to tell Slick’s story and he’s about four months into creating a documentary.
“Boom Baby!” Leonard shouts after every Pacers 3-pointer. That’s how many people, especially the younger generations, know him.
“So many have come up to me and talked about the magic, smoke high in the air, standing room crowd at Pepsi,” said Green. “A lot of people don’t realize what he did. He represents so much with his toughness and passion. He’s just the quintessential Indiana basketball figure.”
Green has made three sports documentaries — John Wooden: The Indiana Story, Naptown to Super City, and most recently – Undefeated: The Roger Brown Story. Leonard has appeared in all three.
Much like his story on Brown, Green is targeting an interview lineup just as impressive. Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and Bob Costas were among those big names that appeared.
This coming weekend, the late Roger Brown will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Hall of Famers Mel Daniels and Reggie Miller will present Brown, and both Leonard and Green plan to be there. It’s just a shame that Leonard isn’t in the hall himself after all these years.
“In my mind, I don’t think you can find somebody that better represents Hoosier basketball than Bob Leonard,” Green said.
“He’s going to buried here in this state. I do believe that someday there will be a statue of him outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse … and I think there should be.”
Leonard has spent most of his 81 years in Indiana, and what distinguishes him from other greats from this state, like Bird and Wooden, is that nearly all of his greatest accomplishments came in Indiana.
It took Green about two years to produce Brown’s documentary and he quickly made his Naptown documentary, in time for Indianapolis’ Super Bowl, in one year. As for this project on Leonard, it’s his goal to be completed by March — when interest in hoops peaks due to March Madness and the NBA regular season wrapping up.
Green is grateful that the Simon family, Pacers as well as Bob and Nancy Leonard have embraced the project.
Most people smile when they hear Slick Leonard. That’s the reaction he evokes. It is now Green’s aim to produce a documentary that rightfully depicts Leonard’s amazing journey, and the stories along the way.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch Undefeated: The Roger Brown Story, it’ll re-air at least three times this month.
Sat, 9/7, 8 p.m. on WFYI-3
Thurs, 9/19, 4 a.m. on WFYI-1
Mon, 9/23, 4 a.m. on WFYI-1