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Connie Hawkins, NBA Hall of Famer, Dies at 75

”‘The Hawk’ revolutionized the game and remains to this day an icon of the sport,“ the Phoenix Suns tweeted

NBA legend Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins died Friday, according to the Phoenix Suns, who posted a tribute to the power forward known for his massive hands, scoop shots and football-like passes. Hawkins was 75.

“‘The Hawk’ revolutionized the game and remains to this day an icon of the sport and one of basketball’s great innovators,” the Suns tweeted. “His unique combination of size, grace and athleticism was well ahead of its time and his signature style of play is now a hallmark of the modern game.”

Born Cornelius Lance Hawkins in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, he played for the Pittsburgh Rens of the American Basketball League and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1962.

When the league folded shortly thereafter, Hawkins performed with the Harlem Globetrotters for three years.

After spending a season with the Pittsburgh Pipers of the American Basketball Association, he moved to Minnesota for the 1968-69 season. Hawkins joined the Phoenix Suns in 1969, where he played 81 games and averaged 24.6 points and 10.4 rebounds his rookie season.

He remained with the Suns until 1973, then moved to the Los Angeles Lakers for two seasons and finally settled with, ironically, the Atlanta Hawks.

“A flip of the coin changed the Suns’ fortunes and he helped put Phoenix on the map as the city’s first professional sports star,” the Suns’ tribute continued. “Rightfully, he became the first Suns player inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and his No. 42 hangs in the rafters at Talking Stick Resort Arena as part of our Ring of Honor.

“Connie’s passion for the game was only watched by his desire to give back to the Phoenix community, a role which he played proudly as a Suns community ambassador, spreading warmth and kindness to everyone he encountered. We will miss Hawk dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends as we mourn the passing of a true Suns Legend.”