The Curious Case of Slick Pinkham: The ABA's Legendary Draft Prank

The Curious Case of Slick Pinkham: The ABA's Legendary Draft Prank

In the 1971 ABA draft, the Indiana Pacers had the 191st selection in the 20th round, the final overall pick. Nobody left at that point really had enough talent to make a team and play in the league. Coach Slick Leonard, in a playful move, decided to invent a player to be picked. He created the name "Slick Pinkham" from a combination of his own nickname, "Slick," and the name of the Pacers' owner at the time, Dick Tinkham.

Leonard's idea was to cause a stir and make people question who this mysterious player was. The joke worked, as the selection of Slick Pinkham, supposedly from DePauw University, puzzled many. Despite being entirely fictitious, Slick Pinkham remains the only made-up person to be officially selected in a major professional draft. You can read more about it in this New York Times article.

With the NBA draft happening tonight, it's a great time to reflect on some of the most interesting and humorous moments in draft history. The Slick Pinkham story highlights the unique and colorful history of the ABA and how it contributed to the lore and appeal of professional basketball in the United States.

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