HONOREES WITH BILL NEAL—Pete Harris, Darelle Porter, Matt Furjanic, Bill Neal, Jimmy Cox. (Photos by Debbie Norrell)
by Debbie Norrell, Lifestyles Editor
In the mid-1970s the place to be in the summer was the basketball games sponsored by the Connie Hawkins Pro/Am Summer Basketball League. The league was founded by Bill Neal Jr., CEO of Champion Enterprises and Achieving Greatness Incorporated.
On June 21, at Sugar and Smoke in Bloomfield, Neal inducted three of Western Pennsylvania’s greatest basketball players into the Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League Hall of Fame. The inductees included: Bill Varner, who played for Valley High School, leading the Vikings to a 1979 PIAA Championship, and after playing basketball at Notre Dame he played in the Continental Basketball Association before enjoying a long professional career overseas as part of the European Pro League (Belgium). Donald Pete Harris played for Braddock High School before heading to Northeastern University, and when he graduated in 1982 he was the school’s all-time leading scorer and one of five New England players to reach 2,000 points playing in 109 games. Harris was drafted by the Phoenix Suns and enjoyed a career in the CBA Pro League before joining the Federal Police in Washington, D.C.
Also inducted was Larry Harris, an All-American in both football and basketball at Clearview High School. Harris was the leading scorer at Pitt and in 1978 he was selected by the Buffalo Braves in the fourth round (pick No. 7) and later signed with the San Diego Clippers.
Neal, who is also a New Pittsburgh Courier sports columnist, also honored outstanding members of the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County community for their commitment and sacrifice for all they do to make the world a better place. The 2019 Willie Stargell MVP Awardees included: Mary Ann Miller, James R. Cimino Jr., Frank Duck, Derrick Hemby, Clarence Battle, Randall Taylor, David G. Brueggemann, and the corporate award was presented to the Port Authority. Neal thanked premier sponsor, Pittsburgh Pirate Charities, and said champions are made when no one is looking.
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