Indiana Pacers’ heartthrob who owned exotic pets

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INDIANAPOLIS — “You’re embarrassing me,” Bob Netolicky says, laughing as he talks on the phone from his Texas home, trying to downplay this crazy story idea he’s been called to talk about.

The story is on “Neto,” the heartthrob of the Indiana Pacers, the player who had men cussing and women swooning, waiting outside the Indiana State Fairgrounds coliseum to get a glimpse, or more, of the 6-9 power forward who owned exotic pets, dressed in outlandish fashion and ran the hottest bar in town where the likes of James Garner hung out.

Yes, Netolicky will concede he dressed fashionably (“All those ABA guys did,” he says) and yes, he owned exotic pets, including an ocelot, lioness and a margay. Yes, he owned the now-demolished Indy bar Neto’s, where famous people who came to town for the Indianapolis 500 or any other big event would drink the night away.

But a heartthrob? Swooning women? Sex symbol?

“I’m not sure I remember all that,” Netolicky, 80, says. “I think some of this stuff, as time goes by, gets blown out of proportion. I’m not so sure I was a heartthrob. I don’t really remember women hanging out waiting for me.”

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