top of page

Before the Atlanta Hawks: The Tri-Cities Blackhawks

Tri-Cities Blackhawks

Credit: Sports Team History

Before they were known as the Atlanta Hawks, from 1946-51, the Atlanta Hawks were known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were located in an area known as the 'Tri-Cities' where Moline, Rock Island, and Davenport meet, hence why they're known as the "Tri-Cities." As for 'Blackhawks,' that's about the Blackhawk War that happened in Moline.

The Atlanta Hawks actually had a lot of names besides The Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Before being known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, they were the Buffalo Bisons. The Hawks were also previously located in Milwaukee and St. Louis. However, we're not here to talk about them. We're here to talk about the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.

Heads Up: Some of the photos are going to look like crap. This was during the 50s!


Table of Contents:


The Beginning: 1946-67

The Tri-Cities Blackhawks did not have a good start in the NBL. In their first season, the Blackhawks went 19-25 (43.2 W/L%). This placed the Blackhawks as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. If they had won three more games, they would have beaten the Syracuse Nationals (21-23) for the fourth-seed and been in the playoffs.

At least they weren't the Detroit Gems. The Detroit Gems were last in the Western Conference and went 4-40 (9.1 W/L%). This W/L% is worse than the worst W/L% in NBA History. The Charlotte Bobcats have the worst W/L% with 10.6%.

Okay, back to the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks weren't the best scoring team. They were 11th in PPG (49.1 Points). On the other hand, they were the best defending team as they had the best OPPG (51.8 Points).

The team had nineteen players, but only one player had more than ten points per game, Don Otten. In the 1946-47 season, he averaged:

12.9 Points

4.5 Field Goals

3.8 Free Throws, 5.9 Free Throw Attempts

The next four players to score the most points per game all had near 7.5 Points.

  • Billy Hassett: 7.9 Points

  • William Gates: 7.6 Points

  • Edmund Lewinski: 7.5 Points

  • Stanley Waxman: 7.1 Points

It's kind of interesting that the Tri-Cities Blackhawks did as bad as they did. If you add up Don Otten and everybody above's points, you get 43.0 points. The next person with the most points per game was Albert Grenert, with 6.6 points. If you add that to the 43.0 points, that's already more than how much the Blackhawks averaged per game (49.6).

This is probably because the Top 6 Scorers outside of Don Otten and Williams Gates played less than 40 Games:

  • Albert Grenert: 30 Games

  • Billy Hassett: 27 Games