Much like the Sacramento Kings, the Atlanta Hawks have traveled around the country, starting in the Midwest in 1946 and moving until finally finding a home in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968. They play their home games in Philips Arena in Atlanta. Their head coach is Mike Woodson.
The Hawks were originally known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. They were part of the old National Basketball League and became one of the original members of the National Basketball Association.
After two years in the NBA (they made the playoffs one year and missed the next) the Blackhawks moved to Milwaukee and became the Hawks.
The Milwaukee franchise struggled in its four seasons in Wisconsin. From 1951 to 1955, they averaged around 23 wins and failed to make the playoffs.
In 1955 the team moved to St. Louis, Missouri.
St. Louis Hawks
The move to St. Louis seemed to agree with the Hawks. They made the playoffs their first year there, and made it all the way to the division finals, where they fell to the Fort Wayne Pistons.
Two years later, the St. Louis Hawks won the first and only championship in the history of the franchise. Led by coach Alex Hannum, the team beat the Boston Celtics in six games.
The team continued to enjoy success in St. Louis, missing the playoffs only once between 1955 and 1968. Wanting a new arena but rebuffed by the city, the Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.
The Atlanta Hawks made the playoffs their first five seasons in Georgia, then suffered a four-year drought. Returning to the playoffs in 1978, the Hawks enjoyed moderate success. But their fortunes changed in 1982.
The Human Highlight Film
In 1982 the Hawks acquired high-flying forward Dominique Wilkins from the Utah Jazz, who drafted Wilkins earlier that year. Wilkins, known as the “Human Highlight Film” for his acrobatic, flashy dunks, led the Hawks to four 50-win seasons, but they never made it to the conference finals during his tenure with the Hawks.
Midway through the 1993-94 season, the Hawks traded Dominique Wilkins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danny Manning, who left shortly thereafter via free agency.
The team had a couple of 50-win seasons after Dominique, but they suffered a long, slow slide to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, from which they have only begun to recover.
In the Western Conference, the Hawks never would have made the playoffs with a 37-45 record. But in the East, that was good enough for a Number Eight seeding in the postseason. Led by Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and point guard Mike Bibby (acquired midseason in a trade with the Sacramento Kings), the Hawks took the eventual-champion Boston Celtics to seven games before losing in the first round.
Under the leadership of coach Woodson, and with a young nucleus consisting of Horford and Johnson, things could be looking up for the Atlanta Hawks. Bolstered by how well they played the Celtics, their confidence could translate into their first .500-plus season since 1997.
Bob Petit, Connie Hawkins, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Lenny Wilkens, Dominique Wilkins