St. Louis Hawks
|Team colors||Navy, Red, Silver
|General manager||Danny Ferry|
|Head coach||Larry Drew|
|D-League affiliate||Bakersfield Jam|
|Conference titles||4 (Western: (4) 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961)|
|Division titles||4 (1970, 1980, 1987, 1994)|
The Atlanta Hawks are an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are part of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They play their home games at Philips Arena in Downtown Atlanta.
Their origins can be traced to the establishment of the Buffalo Bisons in 1946, a member of the National Basketball League. After 13 games of their inaugural season, the team moved to Moline, Illinois and became the Tri-City Blackhawks. In 1949, they joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) as part of the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America merger. In 1951, The team moved to Milwaukee, where they changed their name to the Hawks. The team moved again in 1955 to St. Louis, where they won their only NBA Championship in 1958. The Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968, where they have been ever since.
The Hawks currently own the second-longest run (behind the Sacramento Kings) of not winning an NBA title (54 years). All of the franchise's NBA Finals appearances and lone NBA championship took place when the team resided in St. Louis. Meanwhile, they have not advanced beyond the second round in any playoff format since the elimination of first-round byes in 1967—including their entire 44-year stay in Atlanta. Much of the failure they've experienced in the post-season can be traced back to their poor history in the NBA Draft. Since 1980, the Hawks have drafted three players who have ever been chosen to play in an All-Star game (Doc Rivers, Kevin Willis, and Al Horford; Dominique Wilkins was actually selected by the Utah Jazz and traded to the Hawks a few months after the draft). Horford is the only All-Star Hawk to have been drafted since Willis was selected in 1984, and is also the only first-rounder the Hawks selected in their nine-year playoff drought to play in an NBA All-Star Game.
The franchise of the Buffalo Bisons was formed in 1946 in the National Basketball League, playing at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York, and featuring guard/forward and coach Deanglo King. However, on December 27, 1946—only 13 games into their inaugural season—owner Ben Kerner moved the team to Moline, Illinois, which at that time was part of an area known as the "Tri-Cities" (Moline, Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa) (now the Quad Cities). Kerner renamed the team the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in reference to the Black Hawk War that was mostly fought in Illinois. The Blackhawks became one of the National Basketball Association's 17 original teams after a merger in 1949 of the 12-year-old NBL and the three-year-old Basketball Association of America. The Blackhawks reached the playoffs in the NBA's inaugural year, under the leadership of coach Red Auerbach, playing in Moline, IL's Wharton Fieldhouse. However, the following season, the team drafted three-time All-American Bob Cousy, but they were unable to reach a deal with him. The Blackhawks traded him to the Chicago Stags, who would later surrender him in a dispersal draft to the Boston Celtics after they folded. The Blackhawks finished last in the Western Division and missed the playoffs. By then, it was obvious that the Tri-Cities was too small to support an NBA team. After the season, the franchise relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and became the Milwaukee Hawks.
In 1953, the Hawks drafted Bob Pettit, a future NBA MVP. Despite this, the Hawks were one of the league's worst teams, and in 1955 the Hawks moved yet again, this time to St. Louis, Missouri, Milwaukee's rival in the beer industry, and became the St. Louis Hawks.
In 1957, the team advanced to the Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics in a double-overtime thriller in game seven. In 1958, the Hawks again advanced to the 1958 NBA Finals where they avenged their previous year's defeat against the Boston Celtics, winning the series 4–2. Bob Pettit scored 50 points in Game 6 in front of a crowd of 10,218 in St. Louis. The victory gave the Hawks their first and only NBA Championship.
The Hawks remained one of the NBA's premier teams for the next decade. In 1960, under coach Ed Macauley, the team advanced to the Finals, but lost to the Celtics in another game seven thriller. The following year, with the acquisition of rookie Lenny Wilkens, the Hawks repeated their success, but met the Celtics in the Finals again and lost in five games. They would remain contenders for most of the 1960s, advancing deep into the playoffs and also capturing several division titles.
Despite the success, Kerner became wary of the Hawks' longtime home, Kiel Auditorium. The 33-year-old arena seated only 10,000 people and was starting to show its age. The Hawks occasionally played at the larger St. Louis Arena (mostly against popular opponents), but Kerner was not willing to move the team there full-time because it had not been well-maintained since the 1940s. Kerner wanted a new arena to increase revenue. However, he was rebuffed by the city on several occasions.
Unable to resolve the arena situation, Kerner sold the Hawks to Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins and former Georgia governor Carl Sanders, who moved the team to Atlanta. While a new arena was being constructed, the team spent its first four seasons playing in Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum, winning their first Division title in the 1969–70 season with a 48–34 record in the Western Division. Cousins' firm soon developed the Omni Coliseum, a 16,500-seat, state-of-the-art downtown Atlanta arena, for the Hawks and the expansion Atlanta Flames hockey franchise, which opened in 1972 as the first phase of a massive sports, office, hotel and retail complex, most of which is now the CNN Center. Also in 1972, the Hawks debuted a new logo and new colors, trading the green and blue color scheme that the team had used for two years, in favor of white, gold, and red, the same colors the Flames used. The hawk head silhouette inside a circle remained as the team's logo, albeit simplified.
The years after the move showcased a talented Hawks team, including Pete Maravich, and Lou Hudson. However, after this period of success, the Hawks experienced years of rebuilding. The rebuilding process appeared to be the right direction when they ended up with the 1st and 3rd picks overall in the 1975 NBA Draft. However, it took a turn for the worse when the players drafted with those two picks, David Thompson of North Carolina State and Marvin Webster of Morgan State, both signed on with the Denver Nuggets of the American Basketball Association and never played for the Hawks.
Cable network entrepreneur and Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner bought the team in 1977 and hired Hubie Brown to become head coach. The Hawks were the only NBA team in the Southeastern United States, just as the Atlanta Braves were the only Major League Baseball team in the region for many years to come. Turner's ownership was instrumental in keeping both teams in the region. Coach Brown won coach of the year in 1978. In the 1979–80 season, the Hawks finished with 50 wins, 32 losses, and won the Central Division. It was their first division title in the Central Division and second in the city of Atlanta.
In 1982, the franchise acquired superstar Dominique Wilkins and promoted Mike Fratello to head coach a year later. Due to sagging attendance, 12 home games during the 1984–85 season were played at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans games were paid for by Barry Mendelson for $1.2 million with the Hawks going 6–6 in Louisiana. It was also around this time that Dominique Wilkins would win the Slam Dunk Contest in 1985 and 1990, engaging in an iconic dunk-show rivalry with Michael Jordan. The Hawks' Spud Webb won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1986. Fratello won coach of the year in 1986 as well.
From 1985–89, the Hawks were among the league's elite, winning 50 games or more each season. Winning a third division title in 1986–87 season with a franchise record 57–25 and their second in the Central Division. However, the team could not advance past the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing to eventual Eastern Conference and/or NBA champions in Boston and Detroit. The Hawks drafted Stacey Augmon with their tenth overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, and made the All First Rookie Team. Wilkins went injured during the middle of the 1991-92 season, and was out for the rest of the season. Without Wilkins, the Hawks were unable to make it to the playoffs. In 1992, the Hawks acquired guard Mookie Blaylock from the New Jersey Nets, who would spend seven years of his career as a Hawk, leading them in career steals and three-point field goals, also getting an All-Star appearance in 1994. After several seasons of mediocrity, Lenny Wilkens was hired as head coach in 1993. In the 1993–94 season, coach Wilkens led the team to 57 victories, tying a team record and won a fourth division title in Atlanta, third in the Central Division and won coach of the year. However, the team fell short again in the playoffs, losing to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern semis in six games. The season was also marred with the trading of Dominique Wilkins, who remains the franchise all-time leading scorer, to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danny Manning, who quickly left via free agency to Phoenix after the season ended.
In November 1994, the Hawks traded All-Star forward Kevin Willis to the Miami Heat for Steve Smith, and Grant Long. During the 1995 season, coach Wilkens broke the record (previously held by coach Red Auerbach) for most victories by an NBA head coach with victory number 939. The 1994-95 squad, ended up fifth in the Central Division with a 42-40 record, they would be swept by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks finished the 1995-96 season with a 46-36 record, fourth in the Central Division. During regular season, they acquired Christian Laettner from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Laettner would get an All-Star appearance as a Hawk in 1997. They upset the Pacers in the first round in five games, however lost in five games to the Orlando Magic in the semifinals.
The Hawks had two 50+ win seasons in 1996-97 (56-26) and 1997-98 (50-32), with center Dikembe Mutombo winning defensive player of the year award back to back. The Hawks defeated the Detroit Pistons in five games in the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs, but lost in five games in the second round to the defending champs Chicago Bulls. In 1997–98, forward Alan Henderson won Most Improved Player award, however the Hawks would lose in four games in the first round of the playoffs to the Charlotte Hornets. The Hawks would end up with a 31-win campaign in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. In the quarterfinals, they would defeat the Pistons in five games again, but they never advanced past the second round of the playoffs, as they were swept by the New York Knicks.
In 1999, the Hawks traded Steve Smith and Ed Gray to Portland for Isaiah Rider and Jim Jackson, and sent Mookie Blaylock and a first round draft pick to the Golden State Warriors for Bimbo Coles, Duane Ferrell (who used to play for Atlanta, was waived nearly two months later), and a first round draft pick. Smith and Blaylock had been one of the Hawks' most popular players during the 1990s, and Smith had recently been awarded the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his charitable endeavors. By contrast, Rider had a history of behavioral problems both on and off the court. Rider's troubled conduct continued after his arrival in Atlanta. Rider missed the first day of training camp and was late for two games. After reports that he smoked marijuana in an Orlando hotel room during a January road trip, the league demanded that he attend drug counseling, and fined him a total of $200,000 until he agreed to go. When he showed up late for a March game, the Hawks released him. The Hawks later traded Jackson away to the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season, and Coles joined the Cavaliers during off-season before Jackson was traded. The Smith/Rider trade sent the Hawks into a downward spiral as they finished the season with a 28-54 record; they would not return to the playoffs for eight years.
Point guard Jason Terry became the team's scoring leader during the 2000-01 season, leading them with 19.7 ppg. After All-Star break, the Hawks traded Mutombo to the Philadelphia 76ers for Theo Ratliff (who did not play for the rest of the season, because of injuries), Toni Kukoc, and Nazr Mohammed. The Hawks became worst as they ended the season with a 25-57 record. In 2001, the Hawks drafted Spanish star Pau Gasol 3rd, but his rights were ceded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade involving Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Abdur-Rahim became the team's scoring leader, and made his only All-Star appearance in 2002. The team ended up 33-49 for the 2001-02 season. The Hawks sent Kukoc to the Milwaukee Bucks for All-Star Glenn Robinson in 2002, Robinson lead the team with 20.8 ppg. But the Hawks still failed to advance the playoffs for the 2002-03 season, finishing with a 35-47 record.
In February 2004, the Hawks had the distinction of having NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace play one game for the team. Wallace was traded from Portland to the Hawks along with Wesley Person for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau. In his lone game for the Hawks, Wallace scored 20 points, had 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists and a steal in a loss to the New Jersey Nets. After the game he was dealt to the Detroit Pistons in a three-way trade with the Boston Celtics. In turn, Detroit sent guard Bob Sura, center Zeljko Rebraca, and a first-round draft pick to the Hawks. The Boston Celtics also sent forward Chris Mills to Atlanta to complete the deal, but Mills never had a chance to play in a Hawks uniform. The Hawks ended their 2003-04 season with a 28-54 record. In 2003, Atlanta hosted the allstar game, the last an East team would host for nine years.
In March 2004, the team was sold to a group of executives by the name of Atlanta Spirit LLC by Time Warner (who inherited the Hawks and Braves upon its merger with Turner Broadcasting in 1996), along with the Atlanta Thrashers pro ice hockey team (now known as the Winnipeg Jets), with which the Hawks shared the Philips Arena, which replaced the Omni. During the offseason, the Hawks sent Jason Terry, Alan Henderson, and a future first round draft pick to the Dallas Mavericks for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk. After the change in ownership, the Hawks still struggled. In the 2004–05 season, the Hawks were the league's worst team with a mere 13 victories (five less than even the expansion Charlotte Bobcats and the struggling New Orleans Hornets). It was also the year Josh Smith won the 2005 Slam Dunk Contest.
Despite their league-worst record, the Hawks only landed the number two pick in the 2005 NBA Draft (the first pick went to the Milwaukee Bucks). With the second pick, the Hawks selected Marvin Williams of the University of North Carolina. The previous year, the Hawks had drafted Josh Childress and Josh Smith. In the 2006 Draft, the Hawks selected former Duke star Shelden Williams with the fifth overall pick.
In the summer of 2005, the Hawks completed a sign and trade deal with the Phoenix Suns to acquire Joe Johnson in return for Boris Diaw and two future 1st 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.
Hope and redemption appeared to be on the horizon for the Hawks beginning in 2007. With the third pick of the NBA draft, they selected Al Horford. Horford nearly averaged a double-double during his rookie season, and is the only unanimous selection to the All-Rookie First Team as well as being runner-up for Rookie of the Year honors. The season started with a victory against the Dallas Mavericks 101–94, sending hope to Hawks fans. The last time they won a season opener was in 1998, also the last time they made the playoffs. For the 2007–08 season, the Atlanta Hawks updated the colors and uniforms to navy blue, red, and white, marking the first time since the days in St. Louis that they had used those colors.
A midseason trade for point guard Mike Bibby boosted the Hawks' playoff hopes. At the time of the trade the Hawks were 22–28, afterwards they won 15 of their last 32 games to finish 37–45. Although they finished with a losing record, they managed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. In the playoffs the Hawks started to show improvement, pushing the eventual NBA Champions, Boston Celtics, to a Game 7 before losing in a blowout in Boston. The Hawks won all three games at Philips Arena, which hosted its first playoff games and earned its first sellout.
The 2008–09 season saw the Hawks win 47 games, their first winning season since 1999. With almost an intact lineup from the previous year the Hawks manage to take a step forward in their development. Again they were pushed to a Game 7 in the first round but capitalized on home-court advantage earning their first playoff series win since 1999 against the Miami Heat. The Hawks were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers 4–0 in the Conference Semifinals.
The 2009–10 season saw the Hawks improve further, winning 53 games, their first 50-win season since 1997-98. Al Horford earned his first All-Star selection, and along with Joe Johnson, this marked the first time since 1998 that the Hawks sent two players to the All-Star Game. The playoffs, however, were a reprise from the previous year. They won a hard-fought seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks, but they were swept by the Orlando Magic in the second round, with every game a one-sided contest. After the season, the Hawks dismissed head coach Mike Woodson and was replaced by Larry Drew.
The Hawks took a step back in the 2010–11 season, finishing with 44 wins, even though Horford and Johnson were named to the All-Star team. In midseason the Hawks traded Mike Bibby to the Washington Wizards for Kirk Hinrich, in hopes of bringing a defensive guard to replace the defensively liable Bibby. The Hawks finished the season losing their final six games. In the playoffs the Hawks beat the Magic in six games; however, they subsequently lost to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in six games.
In December 2011, The Hawks signed Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Collins, Vladimir Radmanovic, Jannero Pargo, and Willie Green. They also picked up rookies Donald Sloan and 27-year-old Ivan Johnson. Sloan was waived a month later.
The Hawks finshed the 2011-12 season with the third best record in the Eastern Conference with 40 wins, clinching the playoffs for the fifth straight season. However, the Hawks would be eliminated in the first round by the Boston Celtics in six games, ending the Hawks' three year streak of advancing to the second round.
On June 25, 2012, the Hawks hired San Antonio Spurs Vice President of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry as President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. During the 2012 NBA Draft, the Hawks chose guard John Jenkins with the twenty-third pick and power forward Mike Scott with the forty-third pick. On July 2, 2012, the Hawks traded leading scorer and All-Star Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets for guards Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson and big men Jordan Williams and Johan Petro as well as a 2013 first round pick. That same day, the Hawks traded small forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for point guard Devin Harris. On July 10, 2012 the Hawks signed guard Louis Williams.
On January 21, 2013, following Lou Williams' season-ending injury in a game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Hawks signed guard Jannero Pargo to a 10-day contract. The Hawks season ended in a six-game series loss the the Indiana Pacers.
Atlanta Hawks roster
|Atlanta Hawks retired numbers|
|17||Ted Turner||Former owner ||1977–2004|
|23||Lou Hudson||F, G||1966–77|
Hagan, Pettit, Macauley, Lenny Wilkens, and Bob Ferry, all of whom played for the Hawks in St. Louis, have been inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
|G/F||Alain Digbeu||1997 NBA Draft||49th pick|
|G/F||Cenk Akyol||2005 NBA Draft||59th pick|
|G||Sergiy Gladyr||2009 NBA Draft||49th pick|
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