G 650 Unrestricted Flight Schedule: By Andre McCarter July 17th, 2017
Happy Birthday Connie Hawkins: The One and Only!!! I was saving this story, I am not sure for what but in a celebration of “The Hawk” Connie Hawkins I will describe a play I was in that helps tell the story of a play I saw with my own eyes. Some of the characters and facts depicted herein will be changed or left unnamed to protect the innocent.
The scene was a Baker League /Martin Luther King Game that was held at Philadelphia’s legendary Convention Hall. There was a preliminary Sonny Hill League game before the pro game. I played in that game and I remember that before our game word was spreading that the Great Connie Hawkins was playing in the pro game. I was so excited when I saw that Connie Hawkins was in the same gym. I remember the excitement and anticipation that was in the crowd, the word was spreading about Connie Hawkins and I was feeling it on the court and I want to turn it out in the hope that Connie was watching. On a run out fast-break, I was thrown a pass, as I turned to go up court there was a defender right there and he went for the steal and as he reached I went two times back and forth behind my back, he fell with twisted ankles, and we scored. I had never made that move before it was spontaneous. Many people ran out on the court, the refs had to clear the court to get the game going again. Many people had thought that might be the play of the day, it was not. I just hoped Connie Hawkins saw it.
I had never seen Connie Hawkins play before but all the Old Heads around Landreth Playground in South Philly and the B-League would talk about Connie Hawkins saying he was blackballed out of college and professional basketball, notably the NBA, he was one of the All-Time Greats. So now my game is over. I quickly shower and change so I can catch every second of watching Connie Hawkins in the warm-ups etc. . . . There were some big names I had not seen before but as I stated I am leaving some players and facts unnamed to protect the innocent.
The game was playing out and sure enough Connie Hawkins was gliding around the court unlike any player I had ever seen. His hands are massive ,and he would pick up the basketball off the dribble with one hand never using the other hand and glide through the air like a hawk doing nasty things enroute to the basket to score.
Now, that I have set the scene, here is what I saw. Connie’s team made a play, took a shot that they missed. The other team’s super high jumping center snared the rebound passed it out to his guard for a fast-break. The super center was trailing the fast-break. The first guard on the break advanced the basketball up ahead and all of a sudden Connie Hawkins appeared from out of nowhere taking these elongated steps that allow him to cover an absurd amount of court space and without losing stride he intercepted the pass with one hand, never touching it with the other, he was off to the races.
There was only one player back that had just come to the half court line. Remember the leaping Super Center who had gotten the rebound? He now was the last player that could try to stop Connie Hawkins from doing something we could only image. Slow Motion, is how this scene was playing out; I don’t know how to explain it but it is how it seemed. Everyone in the crowd was in a state of wonder; what is going to happen here? Each stride these two players made was almost like they were synchronized as they made their way to the basket. The leaping Super Center had one thing on his mind he was going to meet Connie Hawkins at the basket and block his dunk. Connie Hawkins had one thing on his mind, I’m dunking this! Connie’s strides on this play was like an eloquent Crane long gliding into galloping. Somewhere around the free-throw line, right side, Connie goes airborne with the basketball in one hand. Super Center has now arrived at the basket from a hard sprint to meet Connie Hawkins at the summit. Super Center goes straight up to block Connie’s Dunk and Super Center got up. The back of his shoulders was at the rim and he had his arms straight up in the air. There was nowhere for Connie Hawkins to dunk the ball, as he ascended from on high attempting a Tommy Hawk dunk as his gigantic hand with the basketball in it turned his hand down from a Statue of Liberty position. In mid-air Connie realized, I cannot dunk this ball right now, and here is where legends are born. Connie still in mid-air stayed in the air like a hummingbird. Connie pulled his right arm all the way back behind his right shoulder, (are you seeing this thing?) Super Center had gone as high as he could and had it been most players in the game of basketball he would have had an amazing blocked shot, but this was this guy we all heard of but had never seen Connie Hawkins! Super Center began to come down from his miraculous leap and just as he ascended Connie Hawkins came back for, not the Tommy Hawk dunk he originally was going to do, but he came with the windmill dunk! It was like an explosion. Everyone in the audience leaped up out of their seats running around the court, the stands, people were everywhere. I slapped hands with my boys a hundred times while hollering as so many did as the game was over even though it wasn’t. Now what I didn’t know about Connie Hawkins I knew at that moment. One of the greatest of all time. I got to meet and be around Connie Hawkins in later years and Connie Hawkins a great guy very humble but One of a Kind. Be Blessed on your # 75th Birthday!