Born: March 15, 1925
Died: April 15, 1989
Cornelius Leo Simmons was born March 15, 1925 in Newark. The family moved to Flushing, Queens when Connie was a boy. As he sprouted over six feet, he was drawn to the borough’s outdoor courts, where basketball was practically a religion in the late 30s and early 40s. Connie eventually reached 6–8 and he became a star for Flushing High School. He was too tall for the army and had no interest in college, so he got himself a job and played in pickup games.
Connie’s older brother, Johnny, took the more traditional route. After high school, he played guard for NYU. Johnny was signed by the Boston Celtics during their inaugural season, 1946–47. Connie was dropping John off at training camp when he got into a pickup game with some of the Celtics. The coaches watched him and asked Connie to stay. He ended up making the team with no college experience, and averaged 10.3 points and 7.5 rebounds as a rookie.
Those would be Connie’s per game averages for most of his career—although he could score more when his team needed him to. In the playoffs, his rookie year, for instance, Connie averaged 17.1 points per game.
Connie put 10 years in as a pro. He was traded to the Baltimore Bullets in his second pro season , and from there he spent five productive years with the New York Knicks. He helped the team reach the NBA Finals in 1951 and 1952. In 1951, the Knicks lost in seven games to the Rochester Royals. In 1952, they fell to the Minneapolis Lakers in seven games. During those years Connie was part of a talented front line that included Harry Gallatin and Sweetwater Clifton, with Dick McGuire and Max Zaslofsky in the backourt. Connie finished his career with the Royals in 1956.
In his later years, Connie moved in with his son, Neil, in Syosset. Two years after Connie died at age 64, Neil named his daughter Connie in his honor. She grew up to be one of the top high-school guards on Long Island and later played college ball. Her two older sisters also played in college.