One-On-One With Connie Hawkins

Long before Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion, Kevin Johnson and Tom Chambers, Alvan Adams and Walter Davis, there was The Hawk.

The Suns' first true superstar, Connie Hawkins swooped into Phoenix in 1969 and helped put the franchise on the map. Recording 24.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists a night his first season in purple, the acrobatic forward led the second-year franchise to its first-ever playoff appearance.

In one of the greatest performances in team history, he dropped 34 points and 20 boards on the Wilt Chamberlain-, Jerry West-led L.A. Lakers in Game 2 of the opening round series, single-handedly grasping the Suns' first-ever postseason victory. With Hawkins at the helm, the Suns would win the next two games, as well, before succumbing to the more experienced Lakers ball club in a memorable seven-game series.

Three more seasons of high-scoring nights and high-flying plays would earn No. 42 a place in the rafters and earn Hawkins a place the hearts of longtime Suns fans for life.

Sammy from [], at 12:02pm ET
What do you remember about your retirement ceremony?

Connie Hawkins at 12:03pm ET
To begin, I was real nervous, because everyone talks to you about what you're going to do when you retire, and the realization came to me that I wasn't going to play basketball anymore, and I'm thinking, "What am I going to do with the rest of my life now?" So it was a reality check and a realization.
Sammy from [], at 12:04pm ET
I've been asking all the other Ring of Honor members this question and wanted to get your take. If you all played one-on-one, who would win?

Connie Hawkins at 12:04pm ET
I would kill them all! It'd be a piece of cake for me!
lou from [], at 12:04pm ET
who do you think will come out on top of the final four?

Connie Hawkins at 12:05pm ET
Ooh ... I'd be in trouble if I didn't say Arizona, so I guess I'll go with them, though I think it'll be really hard for them to beat Duke.
Phoenix fan from [], at 12:05pm ET
Phoenix has four major sports franchises. What was it like when the Suns were the only pro team in town? What has enabled the city to draw three other major pro teams?

Connie Hawkins at 12:06pm ET
For the most part, the Phoenix Suns was the team that ruled because it was the only franchise in town other than the football team, the Cardinals. The fans were very good, very loyal, and now with all the different franchises coming into the Phoenix market, the fan base for the Suns has been diluted. And also the prices of the tickets are so high, I just don't think the average fan can come to the game anymore.
dusty from [] at 12:06pm ET
Who was your toughest matchup when you were playing?

Connie Hawkins at 12:07pm ET
I guess probably Dave DeBusschere with the Knicks was one of the best. Big, physical, very tough. I'd have to say he was the toughest.
jake from [], at 12:07pm ET
how often do you come back home to new york and do you follow the high school basketball there?

Connie Hawkins at 12:07pm ET
I usually get back once or twice a year. I was able to go back to my old high school this year, and I did a little special for ESPN2. But I don't follow high school basketball too much anymore, mostly just college and the pros.
joe, memphis from [], at 12:08pm ET
what current player most reminds you of the way you used to play?

Connie Hawkins at 12:09pm ET
That's hard to say. I think for the most part, the style that I played was the same that Doc played, and I don't think there's a player around who plays that way. I saw Scottie Pippen do a couple moves and thought he kind of reminded me of myself a little bit, so I guess if I had to pick someone, it'd be him.
Patricia from [], at 12:09pm ET had a poll recently asking who would win a dunk contest between you, Shawn Marion, Larry Nance, Cedric Ceballos, Michael Finley and Dan Majerle. Who would you have voted for?

Connie Hawkins at 12:10pm ET
I'd have voted for me! But I heard that I wasn't even on the charts in that poll! I guess I'm like the grandfather of dunks and not that many people are around anymore that know how I played. I was shocked to see that a guy like Shawn Marion would beat me in the poll when I look at him and think, "I could do that now!" But I guess those are the signs of the times.
Brew from [], at 12:10pm ET
Cotton always talks about how you were always late to everything... is that true?

Connie Hawkins at 12:11pm ET
Yes, it's very true. I'm not proud of it, but it's very true. But if Jerry gives me one of those 18-carat gold watches like he gave KJ, I won't be late for anything.
THomas from [] at 12:11pm ET
What was it like to be a part of the Harlem Globetrotters?

Connie Hawkins at 12:12pm ET
Hindsight is always 20-20, and when I look back, I think that it was probably the greatest experience I've ever had in my life. I've played all over the world, learned a lot about cultures, and I look back on it as a great experience. I was able to learn and do so much at a young age, in addition to playing basketball. And I couldn't believe how revered the Globetrotters were in Europe -- they're much bigger stars there than they are here.
Mac from [], at 12:13pm ET
With Joe Proski entering the Suns Ring of Honor next, I'm wondering what it was like working with him over the years?

Connie Hawkins at 12:14pm ET
He started out with the franchise -- he was a trainer, baggage guy, masseuse -- he did everything. I think he deserves to be up there because he held all the ballplayers together physically and mentally, and he should be up there. It's a great honor. And I don't know how many players can say that their trainers are their good friend -- I don't think there's one players - black or white - that can say something bad about Joe. He treated everyone the same ... badly!
Mac from [], at 12:14pm ET
What do you think of this current Suns team? Do they have what it takes to compete in the West come playoff time?

Connie Hawkins at 12:15pm ET
They have the ability, but the problem is that the West is so loaded and competitive. At this point, we're just trying to make the playoffs, but if we stay healthy and if Penny Hardaway comes back, we've got just as good a chance as anyone, but it won't be easy.
Shadrock from [], at 12:15pm ET
What was your number and why did you pick it?

Connie Hawkins at 12:17pm ET
My number was 42, and I picked it because I was from an area in Brooklyn called Bed-Stuy (Bedford-Stuyvesant), and I used to sneak to Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers, which featured a player called Jackie Robinson. I chose No. 42 in honor of him. And it's funny -- I think last year during the playoffs when we played the Lakers, I ran into Jackie Robinson's wife, and I was honored to be able to tell her about that, and I think she was honored as well.
Kathy B. from [], at 12:17pm ET
I've seen you at some clinics you've done around the Phoenix area and you seem to be really good with kids... are you enjoying your current job in CR?

Connie Hawkins at 12:20pm ET
I love it. I started at the YMCA and the PAL back when I was a kid, so I'm basically doing some of the same things I did when I grew up. And then I work with John Shumate doing a lot of basketball clinics together -- we put together a nice mix for the kids and we have a lot of fun doing it.
hakfan from [], at 12:18pm ET
when you were traded to the lakers by the suns, were you dissapointed in the trade,or were you looking foward to being on a more experienced team?

Connie Hawkins at 12:20pm ET
There were two things I thought when I got traded: First, most players get really upset when they get traded. Wilt Chamberlain told me about the NBA and not taking things personally, and when I found out he got traded, I thought, how can I get upset if Wilt Chamberlain can get traded? Then I found out I was going to the Lakers, who were a good team, so I thought, that's not bad. It worked out fine. Jerry Colangelo and I have always had admiration and respect for each other, and that never changed.
Duke of Earl from [], at 12:20pm ET
Do you think Joe Smith did a good job of portraying you in the movie about playground legend Earl "The Goat" Manigault? Did you consult during the movie?

Connie Hawkins at 12:20pm ET
I've watched it twice, and I guess he did, because people keep asking me about it. I guess he did what he needed to do. The only problem was that the movie was supposed to make Earl Manigault look good, and I beat him the only time we played! So I guess they took a little creative license on that.

Connie Hawkins at 12:22pm ET
Thank you for writing in today, and a special hello to all the Connie Hawkins fans who supported me when I was growing up. Thanks!

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