The Hawk Of Phoenix
This is one of the most favorite Suns ever to play basketball in Phoenix. It was fun to watch him practice. This man had to overcome so many odds just to be able to play. He grew up in Brooklyn New York. Rucker Park was where he found himself honing skills against all comers. Connie Hawkins was destined to become "the Hawk" here at Rucker Park.
He was recognized and offered a scholarship to the University of Iowa. He was a freshman and could not participate in Varsity level basketball. Yet the University was caught up in a gambling, point shaving scandal which put the Hawk back on the Street. Even though completely innocent, he was banned from all college programs and the NBA.
So Connie Hawkins played with the ABA and the Harlem Globetrotters. Having built up a war $$ chest, he then sued the NBA for not allowing him to play.
The NBA settled with him, giving him the opportunity to play for the Phoenix Suns. In 1969 and 1970 he played in over 80 games. He averaged just under 25 points a game. He was on fire. For the next two years he would be plagued with injuries. It was incredible to watch him play around those injuries. He was the precursor to a player like Magic Johnson. He was less mechanical on the court than Michael Jordan. Mr. Hawkins was an assist king.
This writer played a grade school playoff game at one of the Suns half time fillers and met the “Hawk” and watched him play. His hands were huge and his body lanky. He was smooth “poetry in motion” on the court. Injuries plagued the rest of his career. But he was still inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the best player ever for the ABA until it folded. The Phoenix Suns did not have a player of this caliber, until Steve Nash. (In our never to be humble opinion).
If the injuries could have been avoided the Hawk would have taken Phoenix to the NBA championship. Alas, ‘twas not to be. This is a very good man, he was focused on his goals and he met them with determination and resolve.
This man had the charisma and talent that made him great and to this writer, bigger than life. The Hawk would smile at you as if you had been his best friend for years and yet he was just looking your direction. Cornelius you are a great model for success. Thanks for the eloquence and grace on and off the court.
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