Connie Hawkins: A legend where the tall tales were usually true

It’s a story Lou Carnesecca has in all probability advised a thousand occasions by now, as a result of Looie is, all the time was, one of many nice curators and protectors of New York Metropolis basketball. The humorous factor was, the longer the space received between second and reminiscence, the higher the story obtained.

Carnesecca was a younger assistant for Joe Lapchick then, and like everybody else within the metropolis, he’d heard tales a few child from Boys Excessive in Brooklyn named Connie Hawkins. However Looie hadn’t simply fallen off the turnip truck from Queens, both. He knew, 9 occasions out of 10, the tales don’t befit the truth.

Let him decide it up from right here:

“So I lastly need to see this Superman play with my very own two eyes,” Looie stated a couple of years again. “So Boys is enjoying Thomas Jefferson, and proper at first of the sport right here’s this lovely child blocking a shot, knocking all of it the best way to halfcourt. There’s six youngsters scrambling for the ball however he will get it, ideas it ahead, grabs it on the free throw line, and dunks it. I’d by no means seen something prefer it earlier than.”

All the time he would pause the story right here. And all the time the large end:

“I ran out of the health club,” Carnesecca stated, “and I didn’t come again.”

Hawkins by no means did play for St. John’s, opting as an alternative to go away the town, play at Iowa, and in one of many nice basketball tragedies he’d by no means play for the Hawkeyes, both. Again house, he’d befriended Jack Molinas, an ex-Columbia participant closely concerned in playing. That affiliation alone was sufficient to maintain him off the courtroom in school, and banned from the NBA till 1969, although it was by no means confirmed he’d ever shaved some extent or had any hand in something nefarious.

Connie HawkinsAP

By then, by the point the Hawk — who died Friday at seventy five — joined the Phoenix Suns, the tales of his legend had grown and grown, a few of them true, a few of them solely partly true. The Hawk who arrived in Arizona was nonetheless an excellent participant — as a 27-yr-previous “rookie” he averaged 24.6 factors, made the primary of 4 NBA All-Star groups, completed fifth in MVP voting. He was nonetheless nice.

However the people who noticed him again within the day, they’ll inform you that was one thing to behold. As the good columnist and fervent basketball sage Bob Ryan has written: “Elgin Baylor’s enjoying imaginative and prescient begat Connie Hawkins, who begat Julius Erving, who begat Michael Jordan.”

That’s fairly a lineage to stay as much as.

And by virtually all accounts, it was totally truthful. There have been dozens of video games just like the one…

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