Due to the COVID-19 world we live in today, Indiana Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren never got to meet the legend Bobby “Slick” Leonard.
He really wishes he could have. He had envisioned it perfectly. Sit down in a room with some dinner, set up shop, and talk hoops.
Leonard died on Tuesday at the age of 88. When the announcement was made, a collective cloud of sorrow seemed to drop across not just the city of Indianapolis, but the entire hoosier state.
Slick Leonard was Indiana Pacers basketball. To the very core.
Playing a sporting event in a poignant setting is very hard to do. But the Pacers took the floor in Slick’s honor against old friend Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers took the game 126-115 on a 36 point night from George. The former Blue and Gold star has posted four-straight 30 point games.
But honestly, the outcome isn’t the story here.
Tonight was about Slick.
“I’ve heard so many great things about Slick,” Bjorkgren said. “But when you read about him and what people say about him, and then what he did as a player, coach, and keeping the Pacers in existence, I really wish I could have gotten to know him.”
If there was one thing that stuck out on the floor tonight other than George’s rampage, it was what Bjorkgren was wearing.
In a season where coaches across the NBA have dressed more relaxed, Bjorkgren brought back the sport coat for tonight. But now just any sport coat, he went Slick style.
Indiana will be right back at it Wednesday night in the Lone Star State against the Houston Rockets. It’s already a different looking Rockets team than the last time the Pacers did business with Houston. Victor Oladipo is no longer there, and they have been ravaged with injuries.
Tip time is set for 9 PM.
But again on tonight.
This game could have ended with the Blue and Gold’s first four game winning streak of the year. But minus any basketball statistic, tonight was about Slick.
Rest in peace to Indiana’s best basketball friend.