Suns great Connie Hawkins dies at 75

Connie Hawkins left with Bill Russell in a 1999 file

Hawkins, a playground legend who rates a first-team spot on any credible list of the greatest basketball talents ever to come out of New York City, died Friday at the age of 75.

Hawkins earned four consecutive All-Star honors with the Suns before being traded to the Lakers in the middle of the 1973-74 season. Hawkins death was announced yesterday by the Phoenix Suns, and whilst no cause of death has been announced, Hawkins was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007.

Before there was the persona of "Dr. J, '" Hawkins produced his own brand of basketball theater, although for many years he played before decidedly smaller houses.

The 27-year-old Curry, the younger brother of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, was projected to start in the Mavericks' backcourt this season. He will undoubtedly me sorely missed. He won MVP honors as the team posted a league-best 54-24 record during the regular season and helped them win a title, beating the New Orleans Buccaneers in seven games in the inaugural championship series. He also played one season in the American Basketball League in 1961, previous to his NBA career.

In October 1973, the Suns traded Hawkins to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent the final three seasons of his National Basketball Association career.

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"'The Hawk' revolutionised the game and remains to this day an icon of the sport and one of basketball's great innovators", the Suns said in a statement.

"His unique combination of size, grace and athleticism was well ahead of its time", a statement from his family read.

It was unclear when the injury occurred, but Curry played in the pre-season game at Orlando on Thursday night when he shot 4-of-14 from the field.

Hawkins was the first Suns player to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, a fact that is all the more remarkable given that Hawkins' basketball career was nearly over before it began.

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