Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks

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Atlanta Hawks Team History

The Atlanta Hawks were founded in 1946 as the Buffalo Bisons as a member of the National Basketball League. The team lasted all of 38 days in Buffalo before relocating to Moline, Illinois, to become the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Three years later, the franchise joined the NBA in the merger and moved again to Milwaukee as the Hawks. The team would move back in 1955 to St. Louis and one more time in 1968 when it would settle in Georgia as the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks Championships

The Hawks lone championship season came in 1958 while the team was in St. Louis, defeating the Boston Celtics in the Finals with a 4-2 series win one year after the Celtics topped the Hawks in a double-overtime Game 7 to clinch the title. In recent years, the Atlanta Hawks have had some success, most recently in 2015, earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs while finishing with a franchise-best record of 60-22. That team would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history but would lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games. As of 2019, the Hawks have the second-longest NBA championship drought, and the franchise has not even had an NBA Finals appearance since relocating to Atlanta.

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Atlanta Hawks Famous Players and Hall of Famers

A conversation about the best Atlanta Hawks players begins with Bob Pettit, who played all 11 seasons with the Hawks franchise during its days in Milwaukee and St. Louis. Pettit was the first-ever recipient of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award (he would win two total) and also won the All-Star MVP award a record four times. Pettit was also the driving force behind the Hawks’ 1958 championship team.

Dominique Wilkins also dazzled crowds as one of the best dunkers in NBA history. During his 11 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Wilkins earned the nickname “The Human Highlight Reel” while making nine All-Star game selections, an NBA scoring championship, and two NBA Slam Dunk Contest trophies. Always a threat with the ball in his hand, Wilkins finished his career averaging 24.8 points per game.

Pistol Pete Maravich made a name for himself with his offensive prowess that preceded his NBA stardom, with his 3,667 points and 44.2 points per game still the record in NCAA Division 1 basketball. Maravich spent the first half of his career with the Hawks and would finish his time on the hardwood with a total of five NBA All-Star selections and two All-NBA First Team nods. Maravich was forced to cut his career early due to injuries and died at the age of 40 when he collapsed during a pickup game from a heart defect.

In more recent years, the Hawks were led by Joe Johnson, who played for the Hawks from 2005 to 2012, earning six of his seven All-Star selections during his tenure in Atlanta and becoming a central part of the Hawks franchise during those years as they built their way back into an Eastern Conference heavyweight.

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