Passing Of Connie Hawkins — One of the Greatest of All-Time

By Jason Gonzalez

Hall of Fame forward Connie Hawkins passed away at 75 |

Hall of Fame forward Connie Hawkins passed away at 75 |

NBA Hall-of-Famer Connie Hawkins passed away last Friday night at the age of 75. At 6’8, 210 pounds, the Brooklyn native revolutionized the game. Being the first player to ever palm a basketball, pundits described Hawkins as being, “Dr. J before Dr. J”. At the time, Hawkins’ athletic prowess was unparalleled. An originator that even rapper Pusha T would confirm to putting numbers on the board.

Nicknamed the “Hawk” by his fellow contemporaries, his achievements included a stint in both the ABA [American Basketball Association] and the National Basketball Association. In 1968, Hawkins had his most prosperous season as a player. As a member of the Pittsburgh Pipers, Hawkins attained milestones that encompassed an ABA league MVP, an ABA playoffs MVP award, capping it off with a chip [a league championship] to boot.

Hawkins only played a total of 7 years in the NBA, most of which took place for the Phoenix Suns. But with all of the talent that he possessed, why did it take him so long to crossover? Hawkins joined the NBA when he was past his prime. Yet, he was still dominant, which was a testament to his ability on the court.

In 1961, during Hawkins’ freshmen year at the University of Iowa, he was implicated in a point-shaving scandal. Although he was never indicted on the charge, and ultimately absolved from any wrongdoing, he was banned from ever playing in the NBA.

While playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, Hawkins filed a 6 million lawsuit against the NBA due to being blackballed, even though there wasn’t any substantial evidence linking him to any gambling activity.

At the conclusion of the 1968-69 season, the NBA settled with Hawkins. Sequentially paying him a cash settlement of around $1.3 million, and assigning his rights to play for the expansion Suns.

HawkinsABA and NBA career statistics are as follows:

11,528 points (18.7 ppg), 5,450 rebounds (8.8 rpg), and 2,556 assists (4.1 apg).

What would have happened if the duration of Hawkins’s basketball tenure had taken place in the NBA? Would his numbers have been better? You would assume so. But in the end we will never know.



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