The_Atlanta_Hawks_-_A_History

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					The Atlanta Hawks - A History

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Summary:
The franchise was formed in 1946 as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (named
after Tri-City native Black Hawk) of the National Basketball League; it
was based in the tri-city area between Moline, Illinois, Rock Island,
Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa (now called the Quad Cities). Some sources
state the team started the 1946-47 NBL season as the Buffalo Bisons and
relocated to the Tri-Cities early in the season. When the NBL merged with
the Basketball Association of America to form the ...


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The franchise was formed in 1946 as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (named
after Tri-City native Black Hawk) of the National Basketball League; it
was based in the tri-city area between Moline, Illinois, Rock Island,
Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa (now called the Quad Cities). Some sources
state the team started the 1946-47 NBL season as the Buffalo Bisons and
relocated to the Tri-Cities early in the season. When the NBL merged with
the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball
Association, the Blackhawks reached the playoffs in the NBA's inaugural
year, under the leadership of coach Red Auerbach.

However, the following season, after the team drafted Bob Cousy and made
the blunder of trading his rights to the Chicago Stags (who would later
surrender him in a dispersal draft to the Boston Celtics after they
folded), they failed to qualify for the postseason. In 1951, the
franchise relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and became the 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.

With acquisitions in the draft and free agency, the Hawks became one of
the league's top teams. In 1957, the team advanced to the 1957 NBA
Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics in a double-overtime thriller in
game seven. In 1958, the Hawks again advanced to the NBA Finals under
coach Alex Hannum and captured their only NBA Championship in game 6
against the Celtics.

The Hawks remained one the NBA's premier teams for the next decade. In
1960, under coach Ed Macauley, the 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 Hawks
repeated their success, but met the Celtics in the Finals again and lost
in five games.
The next few years the Hawks remained contenders, every year advancing
deep into the playoffs and also capturing several division titles.
Despite the success, owners of the team became wary of the aging Kiel
Auditorium and wanted a new arena to increase revenue; they were however
rebuffed by the city on several occasions. In 1968, the team was sold to
new owners, Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins and Georgia
governor Carl Sanders and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Cousins' firm
developed the Omni Coliseum, a 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.

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 worst when
draft picks David Thompson and Marvin Webster both signed on with ABA
franchises.

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

In recent years, the Hawks yet again have become one of the league's
worst teams, mainly because of horrible personnel moves made by the front
office in the late 1990's and early 2000's. 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, with which the Hawks share the Philips Arena. After the change in
ownership, though, the Hawks still struggled. In the 2004-05 season, the
Hawks gained the notorious reputation of the league's worst 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 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 Hawks selected Marvin Williams of the
University of North Carolina. Marvin Williams was considered at the time
to be the player with the most potential and marketablity of the draft
class despite other talented and more accomplished players being
available, such as Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Additionally, the Hawks
also drafted Josh Childress and Josh Smith from the 2004 Draft, Salim
Stoudamire in the second round of the 2005 Draft, and had nearly $25
million in cap space for 2005 free agent market.

However, despite the recent influx of talent acquired in the draft, they
still hold the longest drought of not drafting an All-Star or Pro Bowl
player in North American pro sports (23 years), going back to their 1984
selection of Kevin Willis. In the summer of 2005, the Hawks completed a
sign-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns that landed Atlanta 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. Unfortunately, while the power struggle over Johnson
has been resolved, the ownership situation remains in flux, with
ligitation still ongoing.

As of 2006, the Hawks have shown some moderate improvement. Even with the
league's 4th worst record, during the 2005-06 season they still managed
to triumph over the then-defending champion San Antonio Spurs, 94-84, and
also defeated the Detroit Pistons while the latter had the league's best
regular season record.

The Hawks trail only the Golden State Warriors (12 in a row) in terms of
the most consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance with seven in a
row (see Active NBA non-playoff appearance streaks). They also hold the
dubious distinctions of not advancing beyond the second-round of any
playoff format since 1961 and the longest run of not winning an NBA title
(49 years).

With the lack of success in the playoffs, and most recently, the regular
season, along with often dubious decisions by the front office in terms
of the draft and free agency, and the ever-embarrassing episodes in court
over ownership of the franchise has greatly contributed to the fact that
the team is constantly at or near the bottom of the league in home
attendance. While many local and national columnists continue to barrage
the city of Atlanta for its lack of fan support (for example, the sight
of seeing an Atlanta Braves home playoff game with lots of empty seats is
not uncommon despite the team only winning one world title in 14
consecutive playoff appearances), many longtime fans point to the lack of
success on the court and the league-wide perception that they remain
years away from being competitive as a reason to stay away from Philips
Arena.

				
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