The basketball world lost one of the all-time greats as Connie Hawkins passed away yesterday at the age of 75.
The New York City playground legend and star at Boys High was an All-City first team player as a high school junior, his first year playing varsity ball, as Boys went undefeated and won the Public Schools Athletic League title in 1959. During his senior year, his team was again unbeaten as he averaged 25.5 points per game, including one in which he dropped 60!
Cornelius Lance “Connie” Hawkins (born July 17, 1942) is an American former American Basketball League, National Basketball Association and American Basketball Association player, Harlem Globetrotter, Harlem Wizard and New York City playground legend.
The young man known on the NYC asphalt as “The Hawk” due to his ability to soar through the air with his massive wingspan accepted the University of Iowa’s scholarship offer.
He got jammed up in the 1961 college hoops point shaving scandal, but did not fix any games due to the fact that he was ineligible to play as a freshman, as all first year players were barred from playing varsity ball back then. Hawkins had borrowed $200 from Jack Molinas, the key figure in the scandal. And although his brother had played the loan back, hius name was unfairly sullied and he was expelled from school.
Cornelius L. “Connie” Hawkins (born July 17, 1942) is an American former American Basketball League, National Basketball Association and American Basketball Association player, Harlem Globetrotter, Harlem Wizard and New York City playground legend. It was on the New York City courts that he earned his nickname The Hawk.
The NBA proceeded to blackball him, and Hawkins played one season for the Pittsburgh Rens of the American Basketball League and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. When that ABL folded, he played with the Harlem Globetrotters for three years, a time in which he filed a $6 million lawsuit against the NBA, claiming the league had unfairly banned him and that there was no substantial evidence linking him to gambling activities.
He went on to play two seasons in the ABA — winning the league’s inaugural championship and MVP trophies with the Pittsburgh Pipers in 1968 — before finally joining the NBA in 1969.
Hawkins proceeded to earn All-NBA First Team honors as a 27-year-old rookie with the Suns, averaging 24.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
The gifted 6-foot-8 forward would eventually prove to be one of the greatest talents the world has ever seen and he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
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His biography, “Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story”, captures his life from childhood through his ultimate triumph in proving his innocence in order to play in the NBA and is required reading for any basketball fan.
Brooklyn, stand up! We lost one of the all-time greats. R.I.P. Hawk, and thanks for standing up after being done wrong and proving that the legend of Connie Hawkins was real.