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Bobby 'Slick' Leonard remembered as Hoosier basketball icon

The life of a man forever connected to Indiana basketball was celebrated Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

INDIANAPOLIS — He personified Pacers basketball for generations of Hoosier families.  

Wednesday, some of those families came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to remember basketball legend Bobby "Slick" Leonard. 

It was a celebration of a life and a man forever connected to Indiana, basketball, and one phrase - “Boom baby!"

That's how a city and state will remember a man who was a beloved husband and father, but also a Hoosier icon.

“I referred to him as my gentle giant with the golden voice," his wife, Nancy, told those gathered.

RELATED: Watch the Slick Leonard celebration of life service

“Dad loved the people of Indiana, the greatest basketball fans on earth," said his son, Tom.

And those fans loved Slick Leonard back.

“Still to this day, when they score, I go, 'Boom baby!' Even now, in honor of Slick," said longtime fan Amanda Burton.

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Leonard was remembered for his days at Indiana University and the NBA, then coach of the Pacers and finally a long-time Pacers announcer. 

The adoration from fans as an icon in Hoosier basketball history came, in part, because of a 1977 telethon he and his wife Nancy held to raise money to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis. 

“I am grateful, so grateful, for the life and leadership of the man who lived a Hoosier hoops dream and made our state a better place along the way," said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in a taped message.

“The Indianapolis of the 21st century, I dare say, would look very different, if it weren’t for the man we celebrate today," said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Leonard passed away last month at the age of 88, but the mark he left on Indianapolis is the stuff of legends. 

RELATED: Basketball isn't Bobby 'Slick' Leonard's only true love

“Slick is gone, but he will always be with us back home in Indiana," said Mark J. Boyle, play-by-play voice with the Pacers Radio Network.