by Conrad Brunner
March 25, 2003
Indianapolis, March 25, 2003 -
In his stead came politicians and models, rock stars and Super Bowl champions. In the process, Pacers fans were reminded of something they probably knew all along: there's only one Slick.
Bobby "Slick" Leonard, who has been absent from radio broadcasts (WIBC-AM 1070) since having hip replacement surgery on Jan. 29, will return to his usual seat next to play-by-play man Mark Boyle for Wednesday night's game against Philadelphia in Conseco Fieldhouse.
In his 18th season as a broadcaster with the Pacers after 12 (and three ABA championships) as their head coach, Leonard, 70, is anxious to resume his place at courtside.
"When you're used to being active all the time, those four walls can get to you, buddy," he said. "But I got through the worst part. I feel good for a guy my age."
Boyle, who has been anchoring the team's radio broadcasts since 1988, was partnered with a variety of celebrity fill-ins during Leonard's absence including Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, rocker Henry Lee Summer, Tampa Bay Bucs tight end Ken Dilger, Watson's spokesmodel Jennifer Eichler and late-night talk-show host Craig Kilborn.
"It was interesting," Boyle said. "I will say I enjoyed some more than others. I had the most fun, predictably, with Craig Kilborn. But they all added something."
Boyle also did a few games on his own but he's more than glad to regain his teammate.
"I'm excited to have him back," Boyle said. "The reality of the job is it's easier to do when he's not there because there's only one voice, but it's not as much fun and it's not nearly as good a broadcast.
"At first it was a change of pace but the longer we went, the more I missed him."
The team was 33-12 when Leonard checked into the hospital. It has gone 8-17 in his absence.
"I think we should blame it on him," Boyle said. "The evidence is circumstantial enough that we can at least point a finger."
Leonard laughed at the thought.
"I guess I'll take responsibility," he said. "They've had a tough go, a lot of distractions, things going on. I watched every game on TV but listened to Mark. Man, I've watched so much basketball - I don't think I've ever seen this much college basketball. But now, it's time now to go back to work."