Hall of Famer Leonard Among Pacers Hickory Night Honorees
Muncie Central Bearcats, Coaches J.R. Holmes, Jack Keefer, Donna Cheatham, IHSAA Champs Also To Be Recognized
INDIANAPOLIS – Basketball icon Bobby "Slick" Leonard, the fabled eight-time state champion Muncie Central Bearcats, the winningest active coaches in Indiana boys and girls high school basketball and the 2019 Indiana High School Athletic Association boys and girls state champions will be the 2018-19 Indiana Pacers Hickory Night honorees, the Pacers announced today.
The Pacers also will wear their maroon and gold Hickory jerseys on the Hickory Nights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse as well as road games at the Los Angeles Lakers (Nov. 29) and Philadelphia (March 10). The Nike Classic Edition is a modern take on the uniforms of Hickory High as worn in the 1987 cinematic classic Hoosiers.
This will be the fourth season of Hickory Nights recognizing legendary Indiana teams, coaches, players and cities while commemorating Hoosiers. Previous honorees have included Crawfordsville, the birthplace of Indiana basketball and New Castle, home to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame; Indiana high school's all-time leading boys scorer Damon Bailey; Indiana's first Miss Basketball Judi Warren and state championship teams from Marion, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis Washington and Milan, whose 1954 state title inspired the film, and coaching icons John Wooden, Tony Hinkle and Jack Butcher of Loogootee.
Dates for this year's Hickory Nights and the honorees are:
- Friday, Nov. 16, Pacers vs. Miami: Muncie Central High School. Winners of a record eight Indiana high school boys championships, all in the single-class era, the Bearcats also have been state runners-up seven times and have made 24 State Finals appearances. Muncie Central also produced three Mr. Basketballs, Tom Harrold in 1951, Ron Bonham in 1960 and Rick Jones in 1963, as well as Trester Award winners Jack Moore in 1978 and Sam Long in 1988.
- Saturday, Jan. 19, Pacers vs. Dallas: The Pacers will cap "Basketball Day in Indiana" by honoring their Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster Bobby "Slick" Leonard. Leonard, who played at Terre Haute Gerstmeyer High School, was a star performer for the national champion Indiana Hoosiers in 1953 and after a professional playing career, returned to Indiana to coach the Pacers to three American Basketball Association championships and 529 victories in the ABA and NBA. He now serves as color commentator for Pacers' home-game radio broadcasts where his "Boom Baby" call has become synonymous with Pacers' three-pointers. Leonard was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2014.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, Pacers vs. L.A. Clippers: The two winningest active boys coaches, Bloomington South's J.R. Holmes and Lawrence North's Jack Keefer, and the winningest girls coach, Donna Cheatham of Scottsburg, will be honored. In 46 years of coaching, Holmes' teams have won 786 games and two state titles at South. In 46 years, Keefer's squads have won 779 games and four state crowns at Lawrence North. Cheatham, in 43 years, has won 699 games and state titles at Scottsburg and Southwestern.
- Sunday, April 7, Pacers vs. Brooklyn: Continuing a Hickory Night tradition, the Pacers will honor the four girls and four boys 2019 IHSAA State Champions.
"As we continue with our efforts to grow basketball, the popular Pacers Hickory Nights resonate with our fans and we're privileged to have this platform to recognize coaches and teams that have made Indiana basketball so special," said Todd Taylor, chief marketing officer for Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
Fans can learn more about Hickory and also secure tickets to Hickory Nights and all other Pacers home games at Pacers.com/Hickory.