There were a few of us old geezers in town who were ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to meet "The Hawk" last Sunday.
Connie Hawkins was in Payson as a special guest at the Copper State Jam youth basketball tournament. Some teenagers who were there asked me over and over, "Who is he, anyway?"
They weren't around in Hawk's heyday and never witnessed his on-the-court exploits. In the 1960s and early '70s, Hawk was widely considered the greatest basketball player to have ever lived.
His life story is chronicled in the biography "Foul," which has been on our family's bookshelf for almost 30 years.
Sunday, we finally had the opportunity to have Hawk autograph it.
In the preface to "Foul," it is written, "Hawkins' life is a chronicle of the corruption, racism, hypocrisy and exploitation that are realities in modern, big-time athletics."
Hawk will never be remembered as the superstar he was, mostly because he spent eight years on the National Basketball Association's blacklist, wrongfully implicated in a gambling scandal.
Hawk played with the Harlem Globetrotters and three professional leagues before -- in 1970 -- he was finally allowed into the NBA with the Phoenix Suns.
As a part-time statistic keeper for the Suns in those days, I had the privilege of watching Hawk play. Those are moments a man never forgets.
He was past his prime when he finally was allowed into the NBA but still he was a man among boys. No one who ever watched him can forget the grace he brought to the game.
But Hawk's life story is more than about basketball --it's about a young boy who battled through the despair of growing up in the armpit of the ghetto.
Refusing to quit even when he was wrongfully branded an outlaw, the Hawk weathered nearly every obstacle life could throw his way.
Elks Annual Hoop Shoot
This Saturday, the Elks Lodge will hold its annual Hoop Shoot competition at Julia Randall Elementary School, 902 W. Main Street. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the competition will begin as soon as all participants are registered.
All boys and girls, ages 8 to 13, are eligible to compete but entries must bring proof of age with them. The contestant's age group will be determined by their age on April 1, 2000.
Each contestant has 25 shots at the hoop. The boy and girl in each age group with the best scores will advance to the North District finals. Winners of the local shoot will advance to the district, state, regional and ultimately the national competition.
For more information, contact competition director Bob Troutman at 474-8931.