Originally the Buffalo Bisons, this historic franchise has called Atlanta home since 1968. The heritage of excellence started by all-time greats like Bob Pettit and Dominique Wilkins lives on today in Georgia's capital city. Philips Arena - dubbed "The Highlight Factory" - is one of the premier arenas in the league and is home to some intense NBA action.
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Founded in 1946, the Atlanta Hawks was one of the first teams to join the NBA. Originally the Buffalo Bisons, the franchise experienced several moves (the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, the Milwaukee Hawks, and the St. Louis Hawks) before finally ending up in Atlanta, Georgia in 1968. In recent years, the Hawks have not been one of the league's most notable teams, but the legacy of this historic franchise is actually quite extensive.
In 1954, the Hawks drafted future MVP and hall-of-famer, Bob Pettit. In his second year, Pettit won his first NBA regular season MVP award. In 1957, Pettit would lead the Hawks to the finals where they were defeated by the Boston Celtics. However, the following year the Hawks returned to the finals and exacted revenge on the Celtics, winning 4 games to 2. In game six, Pettit scored 50 points to singlehandedly lead the Hawks to victory and record what was perhaps the greatest playoff performance in NBA history. Although Pettit took the Hawks to the finals two more times, they would not win again. Pettit retired in 1965 after scoring 20,880 points and grabbing nearly 13,000 rebounds. He was inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.
Years later, in 1982, the Hawks made one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history and snagged "The Human Highlight Film" Dominique Wilkins from the Utah Jazz. Known for his spectacular dunks, Wilkins was one of the greatest pure scorers the NBA has ever seen. In fact, in the 1985-86 season, he won the scoring title with 2366 points, and an average of 30.3 points per game. Wilkins led the Hawks to four consecutive 50-win seasons during the '80s. At the end of his career Wilkins had recorded 26,688 points and 7,169 rebounds. He was a 9-time NBA All-Star, and winner of two NBA slam dunk contests. In 2006, he was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In the 2012-2013 season, Al Horford and Josh Smith led the Hawks to a playoff berth, where they were defeated by the Indiana Pacers in the first round. They will be in the hunt again next year. Keep an eye on the Hawks!
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