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NBA's Atlanta Hawk History

Atlanta's NBA Hawks history and the past events that have shaped this great NBA basketball franchise. Here is the history of the Atlanta Hawks - former home locations, team name, coaches, owners, team records, draft picks, trades, and basketball players.

The History of the Atlanta Hawks

The NBA basketball team was founded in 1946 and known as the Tri-Cities Black Hawks. Some experts state the NBA basketball team started the 1946-47 as the Buffalo Bisons and relocated to the Tri-Cities early in the NBA basketball season. When the NBL merged with the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball Association, the Black Hawks reached the NBA playoffs in the National Basketball Association’s inaugural year, under the leadership of Red Auerbach. In the year of short, the following NBA basketball season, after the NBA basketball team took Bob Cousy and made the blunder of transferring his rights to the Chicago Stags (who would later surrender him in a dispersal NBA draft to the Boston Celtics after they folded), they failed to qualify for the postseason. In the year of 1951, the NBA basketball team relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and became the NBA Atlanta Hawks. In the year of 1953, the NBA Atlanta Hawks took Bob Pettit, a future NBA MVP. Despite this, the NBA Atlanta Hawks were one of the NBA league’s worst basketball franchises, and in 1955, the NBA Atlanta Hawks moved yet again, this time to St. Louis, Missouri.


With acquisitions in the NBA draft and NBA free agency, the NBA Atlanta Hawks became of the NBA league’s top basketball franchises. In the year of 1957, the NBA basketball team advanced to the 1957 NBA Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics in a double-overtime thriller in game seven. In the year of 1958, the NBA Atlanta Hawks again advanced to the NBA Finals under Alex Hannum and captured their only NBA championship in game six against the Celtics.


The NBA Atlanta Hawks remained one the National Basketball Association’s premier basketball franchises for the next ten-years. In the year of 1960, under Ed Macauley, the NBA basketball team advanced to the Finals yet again, but lost - again to the Celtics - in yet another game seven thriller. The following year, with the acquisition of rookie Lenny Wilkens, the NBA Atlanta Hawks repeated their success, but met the Celtics in the Finals again and lost in five NBA games.


Hawks Move to Atlanta, Georgia


Over the next few years the NBA Atlanta Hawks remained contenders, every year advancing deep into the NBA playoffs and capturing several division titles. In the year of 1968, in the year of short, with new owners, Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins and Georgia governor Carl Sanders, the NBA basketball team moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Cousins' firm developed the Omni Coliseum, a state-of-the-art downtown Atlanta arena, for the NBA Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Flames hockey NBA basketball team, which opened in 1972 as the first phase of a massive sports, office, hotel and retail complex, most of which is now CNN Center.


The years after the move displayed a talented NBA Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team, including Pete Maravich, and Lou Hudson. In the year of short, after this period of success, the NBA Atlanta Hawks experienced years of rebuilding.


In the year of 1976, Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner bought the NBA basketball team and hired Hubie Brown to become head coach. In the year of 1980, the NBA Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team finished with 50 wins and won the Central Division. In the year of 1982, the NBA basketball team acquired superstar Dominique Wilkins and promoted Mike Fratello to head a year later. From 1985-89, the NBA Atlanta Hawks were among the NBA league’s elite, winning 50 NBA games or more each NBA basketball season. In the year of short, the NBA basketball team could not advance past the semifinals of the NBA playoffs. After several seasons of mediocrity, Lenny Wilkens was hired as in 1993. In the year of the 1993-94 NBA basketball season, Wilkens led the NBA basketball team to 57 victories, tying a NBA basketball team record. In the year of short, the NBA basketball team fell short again in the NBA playoffs, losing to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern semis in six NBA games. The NBA basketball season was also marred with the transferring of Wilkins, who remains the NBA basketball team all-time leading scorer for Danny Manning, who quickly left via NBA free agency to Phoenix after the NBA basketball season ended. The trade was a public-relations disaster for NBA Atlanta Hawks management as ticket sales and overall interest waned without its superstar; in fact, it still sours many Hawk fans to this day. In the year of 1995, Wilkens broke the record (previously held by former Hawk Red Auerbach) for most victories by an NBA head with victory number 939. Despite a couple of 50+ win seasons afterward, the NBA Atlanta Hawks were quickly ousted from the NBA playoffs on both occasions, which led to further apathy by local fans who quickly grown accustomed to Hawk failures in the NBA playoffs.


In recent years, the NBA Atlanta Hawks yet again have become one of the NBA league’s worst basketball franchises, mainly because of bad NBA basketball player moves made by the front office in the late 1990's and early 2000's. After the change in owners, though, the NBA Atlanta Hawks still struggled. In the year of the 2004-05 NBA basketball season, the NBA Atlanta Hawks gained the notorious reputation of the NBA league’s worst NBA basketball team with a mere 13 victories (five less than even the expansion Charlotte Bobcats and the struggling New Orleans Hornets). Despite their league worst record, though, the NBA Atlanta Hawks only landed the number two pick in the 2005 NBA draft (the first pick went to the Milwaukee Bucks). With the second pick in the 2005 NBA draft, the Atlanta NBA Atlanta Hawks selected Marvin Williams of the University of North Carolina. Marvin Williams is considered the player with the most potential and marketability of the NBA draft class. Additionally, the NBA Atlanta Hawks had Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Salim Stoudamire, and nearly $25 million in cap space for 2005 free agent market.


In the year of short, despite the recent influx of talent acquired in the NBA draft, they still hold the longest drought of not drafting an All-Star in North American pro sports (22 years). In the year of the summer of 2005, the NBA Atlanta Hawks completed a sign-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns that landed Atlanta Joe Johnson in return for Francis Pierre, Boris Diaw and two future first round picks. They also signed Zaza Pachulia from the Milwaukee Bucks. These changes occurred after an apparent power struggle between the owners for nearly three weeks before the moves were made. Unfortunately, while the power struggle over Johnson has been resolved, the owner’s situation remains in flux, with litigation still ongoing.


As of 2007, the NBA Atlanta Hawks future looks bright and prepared for bigger and better things in the future, like their first NBA World Championship!

NBA Atlanta Hawks

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