Pro Legends of Streetball: Connie Hawkins
How do you make the Hall of Fame playing only seven years in the NBA? If you’re Connie Hawkins, you do it by dominating the ABA, the ABL, and make the most of your brief time on the big stage. Exiled from college hoops and the NBA because of a dubious-at-best connection to a points-shaving scandal (he was neither charged nor arrested), Hawkins spent his prime years piecing together a career in the lower ranks of professional basketball. Stints in the ABL and ABA saw him win multiple MVP awards, a championship, and a scoring title. When the NBA finally welcomed Hawkins to the fold, the NYC native didn’t disappoint, making four All-Star appearances and one All-NBA team over a seven-year span. The Hall of Fame inducted Hawkins based on the strength of his star-crossed pro career and, many would argue, also on his legendary exploits as a streetballer.
A product of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Hawkins started dunking at age 11 and before long became a fixture on the courts of New York City, most notably Rucker Park. It was at the old Rucker Park (130th St and 7th Ave) that “The Hawk” starred in “the greatest game never played.” In front of a crowd of a few thousand, a high school aged Hawkins squared off against the 6-foot-5 Roger Brown, who was not only a Brooklyn rival, but also considered by many to be one of the best high school basketball players in the country. In the end, the crowd became so big (with people standing on cars and climbing trees to get a view), that the NYPD intervened and shut the game down before it could even begin. Now that’s a reputation.