"You have to have something unusual to be a star, some special quality to be considered that way in the the fans' eyes. I think I'm a normal player."
Just that? By hitting two three-point shots last night, he matched his team record of 84, set last season. He went into the game leading the league with a 43.9 percentage from behind the arc, was eighth in steals and 13th in scoring.
"I mean, Charles (Barkley), Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, they have that flash, that flair," he said. "I don't have the flash, I don't have the dunks, I just play. I just try to do whatever it takes to win a game."
Essentially, The Hawk wants the recognition and status of stardom, but not the cauldron of publicity that goes with it. Last night was a perfect example - he scored his points, helped chase the Mavericks' Rolando Blackman into a 5- for-14, 11-point night of mediocrity, but deferred center stage to Barkley.
Barkley shot 12-for-17 from the floor, threw down a game-high 33 points, took 10 rebounds and handed out a game-high 7 assists as the Sixers beat a team from Texas for the first time in five attempts this season, ending a two- game skid to win for the eighth time in the last 10 games overall.
On a night when the Sixers all but disappeared in the second quarter, shooting 5-for-22 and scoring in just three of their first 19 possessions in the period, they came up big with a 20-for-31 second half that yielded 57 points.
Barkley, their superstar, did his share, including nailing a season-high four three-point shots. He knocked down the last of those with 38.4 seconds remaining, giving the Sixers a 91-84 lead.
Hawkins, their star, did his share.
"He always does," said Sixers assistant coach Fred Carter, "but nobody seems to talk about it much. He has been so consistent, has played hard, aggressively, has done everything. He just doesn't ring his own chimes. He just isn't interested in stardom."
He was, however, interested in helping blanket Blackman on a night when the Mavs were missing injured Roy Tarpley, Lafayette Lever, Alex English and Derek Harper. Herb Williams managed to crank out a season-high 22 points on 11-for- 15 shooting, but Blackman never got untracked and the Mavs lost for the seventh time in their last nine games. Their 36th loss is one more than they had all of last season.
"I want to be strong all the time," Blackman said, "but sometimes you're not. The mental side just wasn't there tonight. That happens sometimes . . . Sometimes you go out there and things don't go right. They're saying, 'It's time for 'Ro' to come on.' I'm frustrated, too, guys."
Hawkins was very much interested in making the All-Star Game last month, establishing that as a signal of his development in his third season, but wonders whether he got his message across.
"I think there are some people who still don't accept the fact that I was there," he said. "Sometimes, it's as if people don't think I'm that good. But I'll get to a point where people will believe it."
There are people in the locker room who believe it, who recognize Hawkins as an emerging force among shooting guards.
"In my eyes, yes," said the Sixers' Ron Anderson. "I've seen him do some damage to some so-called 'best' defensive players. He should have made the All-Star Game without somebody (Boston's Larry Bird, who was hurt) dropping out. I know he had my vote."
But Anderson also understands why Hawkins seems content to perform at a high level and leave the spotlight to others. Last night, the support staff included Anderson and Rickey Green, who scored 12 points each, and Rick Mahorn, who took a game-high 15 rebounds.
"We have a few people on this team who do that," Anderson said. "I don't know whether I could be a leader, but I do know I'm a strong individual, that I'm able to get my point across when necessary. Every now and then I talk to the young guys, tell them if I see something I think they should - or shouldn't - be doing.
"But that's a big part of our team. We have guys who understand one another. We jive around, Charles does things out of the ordinary, but for the most part we do what we have to do. We all understand, and no one has any hard feelings."
That's a big part of why the Sixers have been able to win 33 games and remain in contention for a middle-range Eastern playoff seeding despite losing point guard Johnny Dawkins to a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game.
That's also a big part of why Hawkins didn't take it personally when Detroit general Jack McCloskey fumed that the Pistons' Dennis Rodman should have been added to the East All-Star roster ahead of him. A "dark day," McCloskey called it.
"A shouting match in the papers with a GM of another team was the last thing I wanted," Hawkins said. "I just tried to understand. He didn't mean I couldn't play, he was just defending his guy."
Stardom? Leave that, Hawkins said, for somebody else.
"Let Charles get the recognition and the reporters around him," he said. ''Leave that other stuff to Charles and Rick and Manute (Bol).
"I see what that's like, and it's tough to deal with. It's like being watched 24 hours a day.
"I just want to play ball."