The Atlanta Hawks were originally known as the Tri-City Blackhawks, with the team becoming an original member of the NBA in 1949. There was a short time in 1946 when the franchise was known as the Buffalo Bisons, playing only thirteen games with that moniker. The team was coached by Hall of Famer Red Auerbach, who would go on to win multiple championships with the Boston Celtics. History could have been much different in the league, had the Blackhawks not traded draft pick Bob Cousy to the Chicago Stags. Following this blunder, the team relocated to Milwaukee, know known simply as the Hawks. Despite having Bob Petit leading the Hawks, Milwaukee was considered one of the worst teams in the league. This prompted another relocation, this time to St. Louis. During their first season in St. Louis in 1957, the Hawks began a streak of five consecutive Western Conference titles, bringing the first NBA Championship to the franchise in 1958.
Despite their success, the team could not get a proper arena, forcing the sale of the team to Tom Cousins in 1968, who then moved the team to Atlanta. The next season, 1969, brought another conference championship to the team. The rich would get richer, as the Hawks drafted Hall of Famer “Pistol” Pete Marovich in the 1970 NBA Draft, while finally moving into their new arena, The Omni, in 1972. Despite these developments, the team slipped into a period of mediocrity, prompting the sale of the franchise to Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner in 1977. The sale of the team would once again spark a solid season, winning the 1979 Central Division Title. A few years later, on September 3, 1982, the hawks would make their biggest acquisition in team history, trading for Dominique Wilkins. Nique, as Wilkins was known, would become the all-time leader in Atlanta Hawks history in 1993.
Although the team possessed a lethal duo in Wilkins and point guard Spud Webb, it could never claim the NBA championship, despite having the best record in the league on multiple occasions. The era would come to a close, with the trading of Nique to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danny Manning in 1994. With new head coach, Lenny Wilkins and a new young star in Dikembe Mutombo, the Hawks continued to stay atop the leaders of the leauge, posting multiple season of 50+ wins. During that time, Wilkins overtook former Hawks coach Red Auerbach as the all-time winningest head coach in NBA history. Still, the championship remained elusive, and another era of Hawks basketball had come and gone without a title by the time the team was sold to the Atlanta Spirit LLC Group in 2004.
Following the sale, Atlanta struggled to live up to their former teams, failing to post a winning season until 2008, the first since 1999. This also marked the first trip to the playoffs for the Hawks in the new millennium, led by Josh Smith, Sheldan Williams, and Marvin Williams. Atlanta would push the Boston Celtics to seven games before falling to the eventual champions. Their progress has continued since then, reaching the second-round of the playoffs the past three seasons as the Hawks continue to hunt for their first NBA Championship.