Dazzling basketball great Connie Hawkins dies at 75
By BOB BAUM
PHOENIX (AP) — Connie Hawkins, basketball’s dazzling New York playground legend who soared and swooped his way to the Hall of Fame, has died. He was 75.
His death was announced Saturday by the Phoenix Suns, the team with which he spent his most productive NBA seasons in a career delayed for years by a point-shaving scandal that led to the league blackballing him, even though he was never directly linked to any wrongdoing.
The Suns did not disclose the cause of Friday’s death. Hawkins, who lived in the Phoenix area, had been in frail health for several years and was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007.
“We lost a legend,” said Jerry Colangelo, the Suns general manager when Hawkins played and later the owner of the franchise, “a player I had a very deep affection for who kind of put us on the map.”
“The Hawk,’” as he came to be known for his soaring repertoire, was born on July 17, 1942, in Brooklyn, where he could dunk by age 11 and ruled the asphalt playgrounds, tales of his basketball feats spreading across the boroughs.
He was a decent shooter, but he was at his masterful best should anyone dare to try to cover him one-on-one.
“One of the first players to play above the rim,’” Colangelo said, “and kind of set the tone for those who followed, Julius Erving in particular, in terms of charisma on the court and the ability to do things on court.’”
Hawkins would blow by defenders and, gripping the ball in one hand, finish with breathtaking wizardry or a thunderous slam, seemingly defying laws of gravity.
“Someone said if I didn’t break them, I was slow to obey them,’” he once said.
Before there was the persona of “Dr. J,’” Hawkins produced his own brand of basketball theater, although for […]