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). The Hawks are coached by Mike Woodson, who is in his fifth season at the helm.
The franchise was formed in 1946 as the National Basketball League's Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons featured center Don Otten and coach Nat Hickey, but on December 27, 1946 - only thirteen games into their inaugural season - owner Ben Kerner moved the team to Moline, Illinois (See Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) and renamed the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in the Quad Cities area. The Tri-Cities were Moline, Rock Island, IL, and Davenport, IA. The Tri-Cities Blackhawks were named after 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 four-year-old Basketball Association of America. 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, WI, 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, MO.
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 of 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, Kerner became wary of the now-aging 10,000-seat Kiel Auditorium. The Hawks occasionally played at the St. Louis Arena (mostly against popular opponents), but Kerner was not willing to move the team there full-time because it hadn't been well-maintained since the 1940s. Kerner wanted a new arena to increase revenue. However, he was rebuffed by the city on several occasions. In 1968, the team was sold to Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins and Georgia Governor Carl Sanders and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. While a new arena was being constructed, the team spent its first four seasons playing in Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum. 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.
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 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 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, losing to eventual Eastern conference and/or NBA champions in Boston and Detroit. 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. 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, for Danny Manning, who quickly left via free agency to Phoenix after the season ended. In 1995, coach Wilkens broke the record (previously held by 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 1999, the Hawks traded Steve Smith to Portland for Isaiah Rider and Jim Jackson. Smith had been one of the Hawks' most popular players during the 1990s and 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. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2000/aug/04/510593978.html. The Hawks later traded Jackson away the following season. In every season since the Smith/Rider trade, the Hawks have found themselves at or near the bottom of the NBA standings.In 2001, Atlanta Hawks drafted Spanish Pau Gasol at 3rd pick overall, but his rights were ceded to the Vancouver Grizzlies in a trade involving Shareef Abdur-Rahim.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 Bobby 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.
In March 2004, the team was sold to a group of executives by the name of Atlanta Spirit LLC http://www.atlantathrashers.com/View.aspx?CID01=1865ad53-8062-404b-901a-dd12cfc90251 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, which replaced the Omni. 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. The previous year, the Hawks drafted Josh Childress and Josh Smith from the 2004 Draft and Salim Stoudamire in the second round of the 2005 Draft. In the 2006 Draft, the Hawks selected former Duke star Shelden Williams with the fifth overall pick.
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. http://www.nba.com/hawks/news/Hawks_Ownership_Dispute_Resolved_081905.html. Unfortunately, while the power struggle over Johnson has been resolved, the ownership situation remains in flux, with litigation still ongoing.
When the Golden State Warriors qualified for the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Hawks acquired the dubious distinction of being the NBA team that had gone the most consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance. (Eight in a row, see Active NBA non-playoff appearance streaks). They also held the dubious distinctions of most consecutive 50-loss seasons (four) and the having the 2nd longest run (behind the Rochester/Cincinnati/Kansas City/Sacramento Kings) of not winning an NBA title (49 years). All of the franchise's NBA Finals appearances and lone NBA championship took place over 40 years ago when the team resided in St. Louis. Meanwhile, they have yet to advance beyond the second round of any playoff format in their entire Atlanta existence, which now spans 39 seasons.
However, hope and redemption appeared to be on the horizon for the Hawks in 2007. With the third pick of the NBA draft, they selected Al Horford from the Florida Gators. They also acquired, from the Indiana Pacers, the 11th pick of the draft, which they used to select Acie Law IV from Texas A&M University.
The season started brightly as they won the season opener against the Dallas Mavericks 101–94, sending hope to Hawks fans. In addition, the last time they won a season opener was 1998, the last time the franchise made the playoffs.
But once again, the Hawks organization made dubious headlines when the NBA granted the first appeal of a protested game in 25 years on January 11, 2008. The Miami Heat protested a scoring error during the clubs' December 19, 2007 contest. Due to a communications error, the Hawks official scorer had erroneously assessed a sixth foul on Heat center Shaquille O'Neal with 51.9 seconds remaining in overtime, disqualifying him from the game. The Hawks, who had won that game by a 117–111 margin, were stripped of the victory. On March 8, 2008, both teams replayed the final 51.9 seconds of the game as the Hawks won 114–111. The replay was held a few weeks after O'Neal had been traded to the Phoenix Suns from the Miami Heat.Atlanta also won the regular season game.For the 2007–08 season, the Atlanta Hawks changed their colors and uniforms to navy blue, red and white, which marks the first time since their days in St. Louis that they wore those colors.
On April 14, 2008, despite having a 37 - 45 record, the Hawks clinched their first playoff berth since the 1998–99 season, and in the first round surprised the favored Boston Celtics, the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and eventual NBA champion, by pushing the series to seven games. The Hawks won all three games in Philips Arena before falling in Boston 99-65 in game seven.
On May 7, 2008 Billy Knight resigned as general manager being effective July 1, 2008. Knight said it was time to "take a break" following a season when his authority appeared to be weakened by unsuccessful lobbying with owners to fire coach Mike Woodson.
See main article: Atlanta Hawks seasons.
These are the Atlanta Hawks uniforms worn since the 2007-08 season.
See main article: Atlanta Hawks all-time roster.
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.
See main article: List of Atlanta Hawks head coaches.
All-time Leading scorer