Every NBA team has it’s own rich history, it’s own greatness and it’s own pantheon of who is the greatest players in the franchise’s history. I decided to take a huge stab at this very important task. We need to take every team’s 4 best players of all time and try to make a Mount Rushmore.
Just some quick rules before we get started this is more about the 4 most impact people in franchise history. We did let some coaches make the cut. And lastly, some franchises (Seattle/OKC) are mixed into one franchise. Let’s begin.
The Atlanta Hawks were founded in 1946. Originally they were the Buffalo Bisons before they moved to multiple cities (Lastly St.Louis), before they are now settled in Atlanta. The Hawks only have one championship to show themselves in their over 60 years history. The Hawks troubled history has brought in some exciting players along. Here they are:
Dominique Wilkins was known as the Human Highlight Reel. ‘Nique was known for his vicious dunks and his ability to just put on a show.
He won two NBA Dunk Contests during his time in Atlanta. From a span of 11 full seasons with Atlanta, he averaged less than 20 points per game just once, and the led the Hawks to the playoffs eight times. Wilkins waged some memorable playoff battles with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and is still the team’s all-time leader in minutes played, games played, and points scored.
He was also known for some legendary nightlife. And legend has it that he even opened up his own nightclub in Atlanta simply called “Dominique’s”.
Source:One of the NBA’s true marquee players for more than a decade, Dominique Wilkins earned the nickname “Human Highlight Film” with a plethora of spectacular individual plays dating back to his college years at Georgia. A member of the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1983, the high-flying 6-foot-8 forward was named to seven All-NBA teams and nine consecutive All-Star squads and is a two-time winner of the NBA Slam-Dunk Championship.
In 1986, he won the NBA scoring title with an average of 30.3 points per game, and in 1992 he set an NBA record by sinking 23 consecutive free throws. He’s the Atlanta Hawks’ all-time franchise leader in both scoring and steals.
One of only 12 players to score more than 25,000 points in his NBA career, Wilkins returned to the NBA in 1996-97 after one year in Europe and led the San Antonio Spurs in scoring with an 18.2 average at the age of 37. He left the NBA ranked seventh on the all-time scoring list with 26,534 points and 10th in career scoring average at 25.3 ppg.
Bob Pettit. Well, most of us reading this probably haven’t seen Bob Pettit play.
However, as you can see in the picture above he has a pretty cool patch of chest hair. He was the original star of the Hawks in St.Louis and then in Atlanta and led the Hawks to their only NBA title in the 1957-1958 season.
He played 11 seasons for the Hawks, from 1954-1965, Petit was the first player to win an MVP Award, the first player to hit 20,000 career points, and is still the only player in NBA history to have averaged at least 20 points and 12 rebounds in every season they played.
Source: When Bob Pettit came out of college in 1954, no one thought he was talented enough to make it as a professional basketball player. Although he had been a prolific scorer at Louisiana State University, the tall, thin forward was deemed too slight at 200 pounds to survive the pounding of an NBA season. The scouts, however, failed to factor in Pettit’s willingness to work harder than anyone else on the court in order to succeed.
And succeed he did. After 11 years with the Milwaukee and St. Louis Hawks, he retired having become the first player in the league to top 20,000 points. The greatest forward of his era, Pettit was an All-Star in each of his 11 seasons, an All-NBA First Team selection 10 times, and an All-NBA Second Team pick once. He never finished below seventh in the NBA scoring race, and he left the sport with two MVP awards and an NBA championship ring.
After Pettit’s playing days had ended, rival Bill Russell offered this tribute: “Bob made ‘second effort’ a part of the sports vocabulary. He kept coming at you more than any man in the game. He was always battling for position, fighting you off the boards.”
Joe Johnson has been a staple in our life for what I feel like forever. He was at one point the highest paid player in the NBA at a time where Kobe Bryant was still in the NBA.
Joe Johnson played for the Atlanta Hawks from 2005-2012. Joe Johnson led the Atlanta Hawks to a number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and was part of a Hawks team that had 5 All-Stars.
Johnson averaged 25 points per game in 2006-2007 and made the All-Star teams 4 times as an Atlanta Hawk.
Source: Joe Johnson has always been defined by money. He has made a little over $200 million in his 16-year NBA career, second behind only Dirk Nowitzki among active players. He’s a seven-time All-Star who is known more for the six-year, $119 million contract he signed with the Hawks in 2010. It was called the worst contract in league history as soon as it was announced, a symbol of everything wrong with basketball’s economic structure.
His career was not supposed to outlast that deal, yet here we are in 2017 and he’s still getting buckets and making eight figures a year at age 35.
He is still playing at a high level, and is almost single-handedly keeping the Jazz alive in the playoffs. Johnson’s spectacularly unspectacular game has aged beautifully, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
When The Hawks signed Dikembe Mutombo as a free agent in 1996 he was just coming off being named Defensive Player of the Year.
Mutombo’s defensive dominance continued as a Hawk, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1996-97 and again in 1997-98. Mutombo was four-time All-Star, an All-NBA Second Team selection (2001).
A two-time All-NBA Third Team selection (1998, 2002), and a three-time All-NBA Defensive First Team. Mutombo ranks second in NBA history with 3,289 blocked shots. And Mutombo was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
Source: He was still relatively raw when he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1987 to attend Georgetown University on an academic scholarship.
Mutombo had little interest in pursuing basketball when he arrived on campus, but he caught the attention of legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson, who recruited the 7-foot 2-inch (2.18-metre) prospective medical-school student to join the basketball team. After spending a year dominating Georgetown’s intramural basketball league while straightening out his eligibility, Mutombo joined the Hoyas during his sophomore year but played sparingly during his first season on the team.
He began to break out during his junior year, as Thompson began playing Mutombo alongside star forward-centre (and fellow future Hall of Famer) Alonzo Mourning in an intimidating “twin tower” lineup. Mutombo established himself as an NBA prospect during his senior season, averaging 15.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and a stellar 4.7 blocks per game. He was then selected by the Denver Nuggets with the fourth overall pick of the 1991 NBA draft.
Grade: 1 Cliff
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