Atlanta Hawks

Sun, 28 Dec 2008 09:29

History of Atlanta Hawks

About the NBA team Atlanta Hawks.

The Atlanta Hawks are a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise that first began playing professional basketball in 1946. Since the franchise was founded, the management has changed its name three times, settling in Atlanta and keeping the name Atlanta Hawks ever since 1968. The Hawks are based in Atlanta, Georgia and they play their home games at the Philips Arena. The team's colors are navy blue, silver, and red. Throughout the history of the Atlanta Hawks franchise, they team has been able to garner some NBA success, but most of their success came during the team's early years. Since joining the NBA, the Hawks franchise has won 14 Division titles, four Conference titles, and one NBA Championship title. Read on to learn more about the Hawks and their long history as a professional basketball franchise.

Atlanta Hawks – the Tri-Cities Blackhawks

When the Atlanta Hawks franchise was first founded in 1946, the team's name was the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The “Tri-Cities” referred to in the team's name were Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline, which were all located in the Mid-Mississippi Valley area in the states of Illinois and Iowa. The name “Blackhawks” came from a war fought in and around Illinois, called the Black Hawk War. The Tri-Cities Blackhawks first began playing in the National Basketball League (NBL), before joining the NBA. Playing as an NBL franchise for three seasons between 1946 and 1949, the Blackhawks were able to make it to the NBL Playoffs Semifinals twice.

In 1949, the NBL merged with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) to form the NBA. The Blackhawks were one of the NBL teams that were accepted into the newly-formed NBA, becoming one of the original 17 teams in the NBA. The Tri-Cities Blackhawks experienced immediate, but short-lived, success in the NBA. In the team's first NBA season, they made it to the Playoffs, but were eliminated by Anderson in the 1950 NBA Playoffs Division Semifinals. In the following season, the team's winning percentage dropped and they were unable to make it to the Playoffs. In 1951, the franchise moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and changed their name to the Milwaukee Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks – the Milwaukee Hawks

The Milwaukee Hawks struggled through their four seasons in the NBA. In the 1951-52 season, the Hawks only won 17 games, losing 49, and posting a winning percentage of below 26%, the second-lowest season winning percentage in Hawks franchise history. The Hawks were able to improve on their record in the following season, but they were still unable to make it to the Playoffs. In the 1953-54 season, the Hawks put-up another disappointing season with a winning percentage below 30%. In the Hawks' final season in Milwaukee, the team won 26 games, lost 46, and recorded a winning percentage of 36%. The team would relocate once again in hopes of getting better business and better support in St. Louis, Missouri

Atlanta Hawks – the St. Louis Hawks

The most successful years of the Hawks franchise were during their years playing as the St. Louis Hawks. In the Hawks' first season based in St. Louis, the team was able to make it all the way to the Division Finals of the 1956 NBA Playoffs. The Hawks defeated Minneapolis to get into the Division Finals, where they were eliminated by Ft. Wayne. One season later, the Hawks improved on their regular season record and made it into the Playoffs once again. The Hawks beat Ft. Wayne in the first Division Tiebreaker, then they beat Minneapolis in the second Division Tiebreaker. During the Division Finals, St. Louis was able to sweep Minneapolis 3-0, to get into the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Hawks had a hard-fought battle against Boston, but the Hawks lost the seven-game series.

The 1957-58 season would prove to be the most successful season in the Hawks' franchise history. During the regular season, the team posted a 41-31 record to get into the Playoffs. The team went against Ft. Wayne in the Division Finals. The Hawks beat Ft. Wayne 4-1 and advanced to the NBA Finals to face Boston once again. This time around, the Hawks won the NBA Championship title in six games. To this day, the 1958 NBA Championship title stands as the Hawks' only championship in franchise history. Throughout the next decade, the Hawks would prove to be a dominant team, but they would fail to win another championship.

After winning the 1985 NBA Finals, the Hawks cruised through the 1958-59 regular season with a record of 49 wins and 23 losses. The team would collapse in the Division Finals against Minneapolis, winning only two games in the six-game series. In the following season, the Hawks would post a 61% winning percentage and beat Minneapolis in the Division Finals to get into the NBA Finals. The team faced Boston, who beat them in a seven-game series. The team made it to the NBA Finals once again in the following season, but Boston would eliminate them for the second consecutive season.

In the 1961-62 season, the team put-up an uncharacteristic 36% winning percentage and they failed to make it to the Playoffs for the first time since 1955. The Hawks would get back into shape for the 1962-63 season, with a 60% winning percentage and a guaranteed spot in the Playoffs. The team made it to the Division Finals but lost to Los Angeles. The team would make it to the Playoffs in every season between 1962 and 1968, but they would get eliminated in the Division Semifinals or the Division Finals every time. In 1968, the franchise was relocated to Atlanta, where it has stayed to this day.

Atlanta Hawks – 1970s to the 1990s

From 1968 to 1973, the Atlanta Hawks would make it to the Playoffs five more times, but they would also be unable to get past the Division Finals or the Conference Semifinals. In 1974, the team would fail to make it to the Playoffs, ending an 11-season long Playoffs streak. The team would struggle to make it back into the Playoffs until 1978, which marked the start of another prestigious Hawks era, spanning from 1978 until the late 1990s. In the 22 seasons between 1978 and 1999, the Atlanta Hawks would only miss the Playoffs four times, in 1981, 1985, 1990, and 1992. However, despite having so many chances at winning another NBA Championship title, the Atlanta Hawks would be unable to make it past the Conference Semifinals. The Hawks would have NBA legends, such as Moses Malone and Dominique Wilkins, on their roster during this time, but they would be unable to bring the team back to the prestige and glory of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Atlanta Hawks – 2000 to the present

In the seasons between 1999 and 2007, the Hawks would be unsuccessful. The team failed to make it to the Playoffs for eight consecutive seasons. It was also during this time that the team would have their worst season in franchise history to date. In the 2004-05 season, the team only had 13 wins and 69 losses, posting a winning percentage below 19%. In the 2007-08 season, though, the Atlanta Hawks showed that they can be a strong contender once again. The team made it to the Playoffs and forced the Boston Celtics, who would later become the 2008 NBA Champions, to the full seven games of the series before losing 4-3 in the First Round.

As of December 20, 2008, the Atlanta Hawks have a 2008-09 season record of 16-10, putting them in second place in the Southeast Division.