Connie Hawkins was born on July 17, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised by his blind mother, with his five brothers.
Life was not easy on those streets in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
He was smoking pot and drinking cheap wine on the rough street corners at age 13.
Basketball was his salvation. But later, the NBA would rob him of his best years as a player.
This story will touch your heart and soul. I read this book many years ago and would recommend this read to anyone who is into the game of basketball!
At Boys High School in Brooklyn, he played little as a skinny sophomore. He was 6'3" and weighed 140 pounds.
Connie Hawkins made First All-City Team as a junior and helped Boys to an undefeated season and the PSAC Championship.
As a senior, at 6'6" and 190 lbs, he averaged 25.5 points, had a second undefeated season, and a second Public School Athletic Championship.
He was a freshman at Iowa and out-played Don Nelson, then on the varsity, who went on to a 14 year NBA career.
While still a freshman in college, Hawkins borrowed $200 from a man named Jack Molinas, who he had met the summer he graduated from high school. His brother Fred, repaid the loan the following summer.
He was thrown off the team and out of college unfairly, after allegations of a point shaving scheme which never happened.
He was eligible for the NBA draft in 1964, but no team drafted him, and the NBA stated it was just coincidence he was never chosen. After the 1965 and 1966 draft, he remained unchosen by any team, so the NBA Board of Governors subsequently barred him from future NBA play.
Connie Hawkins played in the ABA for a while and with the Harlem Globetrotters for four years, but his skills never eroded. However, the damp nights in leaky roofed arenas and playing two games a day, for weeks straight, with the Globetrotters, played havoc with his knees.
In 1969 he settled with the NBA in an anti-trust case for $1.29 million and was finally reinstated into the draft. Phoenix won the his rights in a coin flip.
First chosen was Lew Alcindor, later to be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Connie was chosen second by the new franchise in the league, The Phoenix Suns.
Connie had huge hands and flashy spin moves. He quickly established himself in the league, gaining respect from all who played against him, or, heaven forbid, had the misfortune to have to guard him!
Connie Hawkins took the floor in Game Two of the Western Conference Playoffs at the Forum, home of the Lakers.
He faced a front line of Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Happy Hairston. He promptly reeled off 34 points, 20 rebounds, and seven assists, leading the Suns to an upset 114-101 over the favored Lakers.
This game still gives me chills and tears, as I express total joy for the basketball this man could play.
The Lakers would come back from a 3-1 deficit to go on to the Finals, before losing that year. But what a performance Hawkins put on, night after night, with his bad knees.
Connie Hawkins was the first Phoenix Sun to be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and no one deserved the honor more than this man.
Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story , by David Wolf is a must read for all basketball enthusiasts.
His NBA career was cut short, but the Hawk will live on forever as one of the greatest one-on-one players in basketball history.
If you love basketball and a great story, check this book out!
(photo from amazon.com )