Connie Hawkins and the Battle to Rename a Brooklyn Playground | #lovescams | #datingapps

The leaders of the gambling ring went to prison. In the end, Hawkins was not charged with a crime, but the perception that he’d played a role in fixing games turned him into a pariah. Under pressure from Iowa, he dropped out of college. The N.B.A. refused to let any of its teams draft him, so he pursued less prestigious opportunities. In the eight years after he left college, he played for the Pittsburgh Rens of the short-lived American Basketball League, crisscrossed the country in cramped buses for the Harlem Globetrotters and eventually won a championship for the perpetually broke Pittsburgh Pipers of the American Basketball Association.

Despite his outcast status, he made a strong impression on those who watched him play — especially at summer tournaments in city parks, where he could be seen throwing down dunks over his N.B.A. counterparts. More than almost any of his contemporaries, he was responsible for pioneering the fluid, aerial style that would come to define the modern game. “Everyone plays like him,” the Hall of Fame forward Spencer Haywood said. “And nobody knows who he is.”

In 1961, Hawkins met the lawyer S. David Litman, whose brothers owned the Pittsburgh Rens. Convinced of his innocence, Mr. Litman and his wife, the lawyer Roslyn Litman, later pressed the N.B.A. to grant Hawkins a hearing. When that failed, they filed a long-shot lawsuit. Against all expectations, Hawkins eventually won a million-dollar settlement, which included a contract to play with the new team in Phoenix, the Suns.

In April 1970, still hobbled by a serious knee injury he’d sustained the year before, he led his new teammates to the seventh game of a playoff series against the dominant Lakers. But his prime was behind him. Some suspected that the punishing conditions of life in second-class leagues had aged him beyond his 28 years.

Although his portrait now hangs in the Basketball Hall of Fame, there’s no telling how much more he would have accomplished, and how much money he might have earned, if the N.B.A. had allowed him an opportunity to clear his name from the start. His grandson, Shawn Hawkins, who grew up in a tough housing project in Pittsburgh, said Connie Hawkins left relatives no inheritance. “He should have been able to advance the whole family,” he said. “He should have been able to take a lot of people with him, but he was shortchanged himself.”

According to the younger Mr. Hawkins, the N.B.A., which has been highlighting its history this year in honor of its 75th anniversary, has never officially acknowledged any wrongdoing or offered Connie Hawkins or his family an apology. A spokesman for the league replied, “We don’t know enough about the case to comment and would need to first research any files we may have on league litigation from the 1960s.”

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