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Slick Could Return On Sunday

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Slick Leonard could return to the broadcast microphone for the Pacers' game with Miami on Sunday. You might say he'll be a game-time decision.

Leonard, who slipped on ice and fractured his hip on Jan. 6, has been recovering at home for the past 2 ½ months after a brief hospital stay. He had a breakthrough on Friday when he was able to walk up the stairs in his Carmel home for the first time since his injury and hopes to be able to make the trek downtown to provide radio color commentary for the first time since Dec. 31.

"I'll know by Sunday if I'm feeling like I can do it," he said when reached by telephone on Friday.

"That was tough stuff going up those stairs. It was good, though. Nancy got mad at me for doing it, but that's OK."

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It won't be easy. Nancy always drives to games, but for now he needs a walker to get around, such as when she took him to get a haircut on Thursday. Darnell Hillman, who played six seasons for Leonard in the ABA and NBA, will meet him at their car with a golf cart and drive him to his broadcast location halfway up Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with the help of a freight elevator.

Leonard had X-rays on Wednesday, which showed the fracture was healing. He was told his injury for someone his age (85) usually takes three to five months to heal. He was given the OK to put weight on his injured left hip, which led to his adventurous climb up the stairs on Friday morning.

Leonard, an All-American at Indiana University and a seven-year NBA veteran, has relied on his athletic background during his recovery.

"Once an athlete, always an athlete," Nancy said. "They can think they can heal quicker than anybody else.

"He's been really good. He's done what they've asked him to do."

Nancy has been at her husband's side throughout his recovery, sleeping in a chair in the living room. She's also looking forward to returning to games at the fieldhouse, where she can continue her pre-game routine: dinner in the Lighthouse Club, a trip through the media room for game notes, a visit in the family lounge and then the walk to her front row behind the scorer's table.

That's another motivating factor for Slick to return.

"Oh, my God," he said. "That's one of my biggest reasons for wanting to come back. She has all these people there she hasn't seen for so long."

If Leonard doesn't return for Sunday's game, he'll have until April 5. That will be the Pacers' next home game after Sunday, following their four-game Western road trip.

He'll decide on Sunday. But Nancy has a prediction.

"In his mind, he's decided he's going to do it," she said.


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Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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