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Syracuse was the last of the medium-sized cities housing an NBA team, but by then it was apparent that central New York was no longer large enough to support it. A contest was held to decide on a new name for the team. The winning name, chosen by Walter Stalberg, was the "76ers".
The shorter name was quickly accepted by the team for marketing purposes, and for most of the last half-century "76ers" and "Sixers" have been officially interchangeable.
For their first four years in Philadelphia, the 76ers played mostly at the Philadelphia Arena and Civic Center-Convention Hall , with an occasional game at The Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania.
Schayes was named head coach, a post he held for four years the first as player-coach. In the —65 season , the 76ers acquired the legendary Wilt Chamberlain from the Warriors; Chamberlain had been a high school legend at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia and began his career with the Warriors while they still played in Philadelphia.
The 76ers would push the Celtics to seven games in the semifinals, with the 76ers trailing — in Game 7. After Hal Greer 's pass was stolen by John Havlicek —an infamous blow to 76ers fans, rubbed in by fabled Celtics announcer Johnny Most when he yelled into the microphone "Havlicek stole the ball! On December 3, , in the midst of a game at the Boston Garden, co-owner Ike Richman suffered a heart attack and died courtside. Led by head coach Alex Hannum , the 76ers had a dream season as they started 46—4,  en route to a record of 68—13, the best record in league history at the time.
This time the 76ers beat the Celtics in five games. The —67 Sixers were voted the best team in league history during the NBA's 35th anniversary celebration. In the —68 season , with a new home court in the form of The Spectrum to defend their championship, once again the 76ers made it back to the NBA Playoffs and in the rematch of the previous year's semifinals, the 76ers held a 3—1 series lead over the Celtics, before the Celtics staged a dramatic comeback to beat the Sixers in seven games.
At the time, the trade appeared to make some sense from the 76ers' perspective. Chamberlain was making noises about jumping to the American Basketball Association , and general manager Jack Ramsay did not want to risk letting Chamberlain walk away for nothing. Nonetheless, the Sixers did not get nearly enough in return. The man who was in position to take over as the center, Lucious Jackson, suffered a severe injury in and was never the same player after that.
While the rapidly declining 76ers continued to contend for the next three seasons, they never got past the second round. In —72, only five years after winning the title, the 76ers finished 30—52 and missed postseason play for the first time in franchise history. The bottom fell out in the —73 season. For all intents and purposes, the season ended when Cunningham bolted to the ABA, leaving the Sixers with a roster of Greer and little else.
The 76ers lost their first 15 games of the season, and a few months later set a then-record game losing streak in a single season. Their record following the game losing streak was 4—58, and the team at that point had just lost 34 of 35 games. The 76ers finished the season with a 9—73 record, leading the skeptical Philadelphia press to call them the "Nine and ers". Under coach Roy Rubin the 76ers went 4— It was his first and, as it turned out, his last NBA coaching job.
He was succeeded by player-coach Kevin Loughery, who went 5—26 the rest of the way. The nine wins by the —73 squad is the fourth fewest in NBA history, and remains the fewest for a full game season.
The 73 losses, although threatened several times, remains the all-time low-water mark for any NBA franchise. Only six seasons earlier, the 76ers had set the NBA record for most wins in a season. The 76ers of —73 are generally considered to be the worst team an NBA franchise has ever put on the court — although NBA historian Kyle Wright argued in a study that owing to weaker schedules the —93 Mavericks and —98 Nuggets , both of whom won eleven games, plus the inaugural Cleveland Cavaliers who played an extremely weak schedule, were actually poorer teams.
The next year, the 76ers would hire Gene Shue as their head coach and they slowly came back. In the —76 season , the 76ers acquired George McGinnis from the Indiana Pacers of the ABA after the Knicks tried to sign him, not knowing that the 76ers owned his rights. With him, the 76ers were back in the playoffs after a five-year absence, and even though they lost to the Buffalo Braves in three games, a "Doctor" would come along and get the team healthy enough to stay in perennial contention.
During this period, however, one last personnel misjudgment had effects when the team used the fifth pick overall in the draft to select Darryl Dawkins directly from high school. The immensely talented and physically imposing Dawkins seldom, if ever, lived up to his great potential in part because of a perpetual adolescence. Led by Erving, the 76ers began an exciting ride for the fans of Philadelphia, beating their long-time rival from Boston in a seven-game playoff to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
That led to the —78 motto of "We owe you one", which would ultimately backfire when they lost in the conference finals that season to the Washington Bullets , who went on to win the NBA championship.
In the next four seasons, the 76ers would fall short of the NBA Championship, even after Shue handed the coaching reins to former great Billy Cunningham. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the 76ers opened a 3—1 series lead over the Celtics only to see Boston come back and win the series in seven games.
The following season, the 76ers again faced the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and again jumped to a 3—1 series lead only to see Boston forge a 3—3 series tie. The 76ers were given little chance of winning as they faced the Celtics in Game Seven at Boston Garden. This time, they played angry but inspired basketball, pulling away to a — victory and becoming the third NBA road team to win Game 7 after leading series 3—1.
In the game's closing moments, the Boston Garden fans began chanting "Beat L. Harold Katz bought the 76ers from Dixon in On his watch, the final piece of the championship puzzle was completed before the —83 season when they acquired center Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets. Malone was named League MVP, and when reporters asked how the playoffs would run, he answered, "four, four, four"—in other words, saying that the 76ers needed to win four games in each of the 3 rounds.
The media misinterpreted this and assumed Moses was predicting that the 76ers would sweep all three rounds to win the title, with the minimum 12 games. Malone's accent made his boast sound like "fo', fo', fo'.
However, the 76ers backed up Malone's boast. They made a mockery of the Eastern Conference playoffs, first sweeping the New York Knicks and then beating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.
The 76ers went on to win their third NBA championship and second in Philadelphia with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated them the season before. Malone was named the playoffs' MVP. The 76ers did not quite fulfill Malone's prediction, as their run was actually "fo', fi', fo" "four, five, four" — a loss to the Bucks in game four of the Eastern finals being the only blemish on their playoff run. Nonetheless, their 12—1 playoff record is tied for the least number of losses in league history with the —01 Lakers, who went 15—1 en route to the NBA title, coincidentally beating the 76ers in the Finals after suffering their only defeat that postseason in Game 1 , and also with the Golden State Warriors , who won the title with a playoff record.
This also marked the last championship in Philadelphia until the Phillies won the World Series. After a disappointing —84 season , which ended with a five-game loss to the upstart New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs , Charles Barkley arrived in Philadelphia for the —85 season.
For the next eight seasons, Barkley brought delight to the Philadelphia fans thanks to his humorous and sometimes controversial ways. As it turned out, they would never again advance as far during Barkley's tenure in Philadelphia.
Following the —85 season, Matt Guokas replaced Billy Cunningham as head coach. Guokas led the 76ers to a 54—28 record and the second round of the playoffs , where they were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. On June 16, , Katz made two of the most controversial and highly criticized personnel moves in franchise history, trading Moses Malone to Washington and the first overall pick in the NBA draft which had been obtained from the San Diego Clippers in a trade for Joe Bryant to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In return, the 76ers received Roy Hinson , Jeff Ruland , and Cliff Robinson , none of whom played more than three seasons with the team. Cleveland, meanwhile, turned their acquired pick into future All-Star Brad Daugherty. On the night of the —87 season opener, Julius Erving announced he would retire after the season, which was subsequently filled with tributes in each arena the Sixers visited.
On the court, the team suffered through an injury-plagued campaign, but still managed to make the playoffs with a 45—37 record. Their season would end at the hands of the Bucks again, this time in a best-of-five first round series that went the distance.
In —88 , with the team's record at 20—23, Guokas was fired and replaced by assistant coach Jim Lynam. Lynam finished the season 16—23, to bring Philadelphia's overall mark to 36— For the first time since the —75 season , the Sixers failed to reach the playoffs. Philadelphia selected Charles Smith with its first pick third overall in the NBA draft , then traded his rights to the Los Angeles Clippers for their first pick sixth overall , and Hersey Hawkins.
In five seasons with the 76ers, Hawkins would average 19 points per game, and was the team's all-time leader in three-point field goals attempted and made when he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for Dana Barros , Sidney Green and draft picks in In —89, Philadelphia returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, but was swept in the first round by the New York Knicks.
After defeating Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia faced Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the second round. The 76ers fell to the Chicago Bulls in five games, and would do the same in after sweeping the Bucks in the first round. In the —92 season , the 76ers went 35—47 and missed the playoffs for the just the second time during Barkley's eight seasons in Philadelphia.
Lynam relinquished his head coaching position to become general manager following the —92 season, and hired Doug Moe to fill the vacancy. Moe's tenure lasted just 56 games, with the Sixers posting a 19—37 record. Popular former player and longtime assistant coach Fred Carter succeeded Moe as head coach in March , but could only manage a 32—76 record at the helm.
Following the —94 season , the 76ers hired John Lucas in the dual role of head coach and general manager. The enthusiastic Lucas had been successful as a head coach for the San Antonio Spurs , and Philadelphia hoped he could breathe new life into the 76ers.
It proved disastrous, as the team went 42— in its two seasons under Lucas. The acquisition of unproductive free agents such as Scott Williams and Charles Shackleford , players at the end of their careers such as LaSalle Thompson , Orlando Woolridge , and Scott Skiles along with stunningly unwise high draft picks such as Shawn Bradley and Sharone Wright were also factors in the team's decline.
Lakers—had 16 productive seasons as an NBA player. Starting with the —91 season , and ending with the —96 season , the 76ers had the dubious distinction of seeing their win total decrease each year. The nadir was the —96 season, when they finished with an 18—64 record, the second-worst in franchise history at the time.
It was also the second-worst record in the league that year, ahead of only the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies but behind the Toronto Raptors , who were also in their inaugural season. That season would turn out to be their last in The Spectrum. Katz, unpopular among fans since the trades, sold the team to Comcast Spectacor , a consortium of Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider and Comcast Corporation , at the end of the —96 season.
Snider had been the 76ers' landlord since gaining control of the Spectrum in Pat Croce , a former trainer for the Flyers and Sixers, took over as president. Many 76ers fans call these years "The Dark Ages". However, after many years of misfortune, there was a bright spot. The team won the lottery for the top pick in the NBA draft.
Questions remained, but with the first pick, the Sixers found their "Answer": With new ownership, Iverson in place, and the 76ers moving into the CoreStates Center , things seemed to finally be heading in a positive direction.
Croce fired Lucas as both coach and general manager. Johnny Davis was named head coach, while Brad Greenberg took over as general manager. Iverson was named Rookie of the Year, but Philadelphia's overall improvement was minimal, as they finished with a 22—60 record.
Changes had to be made, and after the —97 season , Davis and Greenberg were both fired and the unveiling of a new 76ers team logo and jerseys marked a new era. To replace Davis, Larry Brown was hired as head coach.
Known for a defense-first approach and transforming unsuccessful teams into winners by "playing the right way", Brown faced perhaps his toughest coaching challenge.
He often clashed with Iverson, but the 76ers improved to 31 wins in — In exchange, Philadelphia received Aaron McKie and Theo Ratliff , defensive standouts who would have an impact in the team's resurgence. Prior to the —99 season , the 76ers signed George Lynch and Matt Geiger , but a lockout delayed the start of the season, which was shortened to 50 games. During the season, Philadelphia acquired Tyrone Hill in a trade with Milwaukee.
The team began its resurgence during this lockout-shortened season, finishing with a 28—22 record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, marking the first time since the team reached the postseason. In the first round, Philadelphia upset the Orlando Magic 3—1, before being swept by the Indiana Pacers. The following season, the Sixers improved to 49—33, fifth in the Eastern Conference. Again, the Sixers won their first round series in four games, this time defeating the Charlotte Hornets.
For the second straight year, they were defeated by Indiana in the second round, this time in six games. Though the team was moving in a positive direction, Iverson and Brown continued to clash, and their relationship deteriorated to the point where it seemed certain Iverson would be traded. A rumored trade to the Los Angeles Clippers fell through, but a complicated four-team deal that would've seen Iverson sent to Detroit was agreed upon, only to see it dissolve due to salary cap problems.
When it became clear Iverson was staying in Philadelphia, he and Brown worked to patch things up, and the team would reap the benefits in — During the —01 season , the 76ers got off to a hot start by winning their first ten games and were never seriously challenged in the Atlantic Division. Shortly before the All-Star break, Theo Ratliff was lost for the season with a wrist injury, one that would later prove to be devastating to his future career.
Despite holding a 41—14 record and a comfortable lead atop both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings at the time of the February 22 trade deadline, management felt the team needed an established center to advance deep into the playoffs. The 76ers went on to finish 56—26, good enough for their first Atlantic Division title since —90 and top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia faced Indiana yet again. In Game One, the 76ers wasted an point lead and lost, 79—78, when Reggie Miller hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds. Philadelphia fought back, however, and took the next three games to win the series.
The teams alternated wins in the first four games, with Iverson scoring 54 points in Philadelphia's Game Two victory. A Game Five win with Iverson scoring 52 in a —88 rout and Game Six loss set up a decisive Game Seven, which the 76ers survived as Carter missed a long jump shot at the buzzer for an 88—87 victory that sent the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
After the teams split the first two games of the series in Philadelphia, it was learned Iverson would miss Game Three due to various nagging injuries that had plagued him late in the season. Though most predicted a Milwaukee cakewalk, the 76ers kept the game close before falling, 80— Philadelphia seemed to gain momentum despite the loss, and they would win Games Four and Five.
Milwaukee put any Sixer celebration plans on hold by building up a point lead in the third quarter of Game Six, but the 76ers would make a furious fourth-quarter rally before falling — Struggling in the series up to that point, Iverson scored 26 points in the final quarter to finish with 46 on the night and appeared to have gotten a second wind. In Game Seven, the Bucks jumped out to a 34—25 second quarter advantage before seldom-used reserve Raja Bell scored 10 points to spark a 23—4 run that gave Philadelphia the lead for good.
Iverson scored 44 points and the 76ers pulled away in the second half, winning by a —91 score to put them in the NBA Finals for the first time since As had been the case in their three previous Finals appearances, their opponent would be the Los Angeles Lakers, who had run up an 11—0 record in the first three rounds of the playoffs and were expected by many to make quick work of a worn-down 76ers squad.
Because of a seemingly meaningless loss to the lowly Chicago Bulls in the regular season finale both the Sixers and the Lakers finished with identical 56—26 records, but Los Angeles was awarded a higher seed based on tiebreakers , the NBA Finals marked the first time in the playoffs in which the 76ers had to start a series on the road.
In Game One, the Lakers jumped out to an 18—5 lead, but the 76ers stormed back to take a point lead in the second half. Los Angeles rallied to force a 94—94 tie at the end of regulation before scoring the first five points of the overtime period, but the 76ers closed the game on a 13—2 run for a — triumph. Iverson hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 1: Eric Snow hit a running jump shot in the waning seconds with the shot clock expiring to clinch the stunning victory.
In Game Three, Shaquille O'Neal fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and the Sixers pulled to within a point with less than a minute to play after trailing by 12 earlier in the second half. Robert Horry , however, hit a clutch three-pointer in that final minute, and the Lakers prevailed, 96— The 76ers went into the —02 season with high expectations, but were able to produce only a 43—39 record, sixth in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia was defeated 3—2 by the Boston Celtics.
In the —03 season , the 76ers sprinted to a 15—4 start, but a 10—20 swoon left them 25—24 at the All-Star break. After the break, the 76ers caught fire, winning nine in a row at one point, and 23 of their last 33 to finish at 48—34, earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Iverson scored 55 points in the playoff opener against the New Orleans Hornets and the Sixers went on to win the series in six games. In the second round, the Detroit Pistons ended Philadelphia's playoff run in a frustrating six-game series that saw the 76ers lose twice in overtime, and once on a last-second shot in regulation.
It would be nine years before the Sixers won another playoff series. On Memorial Day, , Brown abruptly resigned as head coach, taking over the reins in Detroit a few days later. Ayers lasted only 52 games and was fired with the team's record at 21— Chris Ford took over, but the 76ers finished the —04 season at 33—49, missing the playoffs for the first time in six years. Iverson, who was at odds with Ford throughout the interim coach's tenure, played only 48 games in a stormy, injury-plagued season.
For the —05 season , Philadelphia native Jim O'Brien was named head coach. Iverson was moved back to point guard and flourished, having arguably his finest season. He also impressed many with his willingness to get other players involved in the offense. During this season, Philadelphia acquired Chris Webber in a trade with the Sacramento Kings , with the hopes that the team had at long last found a consistent second scoring option to compliment Iverson.
Andre Iguodala , Philadelphia's first-round pick in the NBA draft , was named to the All-Rookie First Team, and the 76ers returned to the postseason with a 43—39 record. Though the —05 season, the 76ers exceeded many on-court expectations, there was a great deal of behind-the-scenes tension between O'Brien, his players, and the front office. Shortly after the season ended, O'Brien was fired and replaced by the popular Maurice Cheeks , who played for the team from to , and was the starting point guard for the NBA Champions.
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Louis , Missouri , Milwaukee's rival in the beer industry, and became the St. In , the St. Louis Hawks drafted legendary Bill Russell in the first round 2 pick. In , the Hawks finished four games under. However, the Western Division was extremely weak that year; no team in the division had a winning record. They won the division title and a bye to the division finals after defeating the Minneapolis Lakers and Fort Wayne Pistons in one-game tiebreakers.
They then defeated the Lakers in the division finals to advance to the Finals , losing to the Boston Celtics in a double-overtime thriller in game seven. In , after tallying their first winning record, they again advanced to the Finals , where they avenged their defeat against the Celtics from the previous year, winning the series 4—2 and giving the Hawks their first and only NBA Championship. Bob Pettit scored 50 points in the final game of the series.
The Hawks remained one of the NBA's premier teams for the next decade. In , under coach Ed Macauley , the team advanced to the Finals , but lost to the Celtics in another game seven thriller. The following year, with the acquisition of rookie Lenny Wilkens , the Hawks repeated their success, but met the Celtics in the Finals again and lost in five games.
They would remain contenders for most of the s, advancing deep into the playoffs and also capturing several division titles. Despite the success, Kerner became weary of the Hawks' longtime home, Kiel Auditorium. The year-old arena seated only 10, people and was starting to show its age.
The Hawks occasionally played at the larger St. Louis Arena , mostly against popular opponents, but Kerner was not willing to move the team there full-time because it had not been well-maintained since the s. Even though it was being heavily renovated to accommodate the arrival of the NHL 's Blues in , Kerner was still not willing to move to the St. He wanted a new arena to increase revenue. However, Kerner was rebuffed by the city on several occasions.
In early , Kerner briefly put the Hawks up for sale. Unable to resolve the arena situation, Kerner sold the Hawks to Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins and former Georgia governor Carl Sanders , who moved the team to Atlanta in Cousins' firm soon developed the Omni Coliseum , a 16,seat, state-of-the-art downtown Atlanta arena, for the Hawks and the expansion Atlanta Flames hockey franchise, which opened in as the first phase of a massive sports, office, hotel and retail complex, most of which is now the CNN Center.
Also in , the Hawks debuted a new logo and new colors, trading the green and blue color scheme that the team had used for two years, in favor of white, gold, and red, the same colors the Flames used. The hawk head silhouette inside a circle remained as the team's logo, albeit simplified. However, after this period of success, the team experienced some years of rebuilding. Despite appearing to be moving in the right direction when they ended up with the 1st and 3rd picks overall in the NBA draft , the players drafted with those two picks, David Thompson of North Carolina State and Marvin Webster of Morgan State, both signed with the Denver Nuggets of the American Basketball Association and never played for the Hawks.
Cable network entrepreneur and Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner bought the team in and hired Hubie Brown to become head coach. Turner's ownership was instrumental in keeping both teams in the region. Coach Brown won coach of the year in In the —80 season, the Hawks finished with a record and won the Central Division. It was their first division title in the Central Division and second in the city of Atlanta. In , the franchise acquired superstar Dominique Wilkins and promoted Mike Fratello to head coach a year later.
Due to sagging attendance, 12 home games during the —85 season were played at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans , Louisiana. From to , the Hawks were among the league's elite, winning 50 games or more each season. They won a division title in —87 going 57—25 which was a franchise record that would last until the season. However, the team could not advance past the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing to the eventual Eastern Conference and in some years, NBA champions Boston and Detroit.
However, Wilkins had a season-ending injury in the middle of the season, and without him, the Hawks were unable to make it to the playoffs. In , the Hawks acquired guard Mookie Blaylock from the New Jersey Nets ; he would spend seven years of his career as a Hawk, leading them in career steals and three-point field goals while earning an All-Star appearance in After seasons of mediocrity, Lenny Wilkens was hired as head coach in In —94 , the Hawks won 57 games, tying a team record.
They also won a fourth division title in Atlanta, and third in the Central Division. Coach Wilkens was named Coach of the Year for his work with the team. However, the team fell short again in the playoffs, losing to the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the Eastern semis in six games.
The season was also marred by the trading of Dominique Wilkins, who remains the franchise all-time leading scorer, to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danny Manning , who quickly left via free agency to the Phoenix Suns after the season ended. During the season, coach Wilkens broke the record previously held by coach Red Auerbach for most victories by an NBA head coach with victory number They ended up fifth in the Central Division with a 42—40 record, they would be swept by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hawks finished the —96 season with a 46—36 record, fourth in the Central Division. Midway through the season, they acquired Christian Laettner from the Minnesota Timberwolves ; Laettner would get an All-Star appearance in They upset the third-seeded Pacers in the first round in five games, however lost in five games to the Orlando Magic in the semifinals.
Around this time, it was decided that the Omni should be replaced by a new arena. The Omni was designed with weathering steel that was intended to rust into a seal around the arena so it could last for decades. However, the designers and architects did not reckon on Atlanta's humid subtropical climate. As a result, it never stopped rusting, and looked somewhat dated despite being 25 years old.
When Turner won an NHL franchise, the Atlanta Thrashers , one condition was that a new arena had to be in place before the new team took the ice for the first time, as The Omni was unusable even for temporary use.
Eventually, it was decided that The Omni would be demolished and a new arena for the Hawks and the expansion NHL Thrashers would be built on the same area. Following the playoffs, the Hawks moved back to Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum, with the Georgia Dome used for larger-capacity games, until Philips Arena opened before the — season. The Hawks defeated the Detroit Pistons in five games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but lost in five games in the second round to the defending champs Chicago Bulls.
Game 4, an 89—80 loss, would be the last game at The Omni. However, the Hawks would lose in four games in the first round of the playoffs to the Charlotte Hornets. The Hawks would end up with a win campaign in the lockout-shortened —99 season. In the first round they defeated the Pistons in five games again, but they could not advance past the second round of the playoffs, as they were swept by the eighth-seeded New York Knicks.
Smith and Blaylock had been one of the Hawks' most popular players during the s, and Smith had recently been awarded the J. By contrast, Rider had a history of behavioral problems both on and off the court. Rider's troubled conduct continued after his arrival in Atlanta.
Rider missed the first day of training camp and was late for two games. When he showed up late for a March game, the Hawks released him. After only missing the playoffs four times since , they fell to seventh place in the Central Division with a 28—54 record; they would not return to the playoffs for eight years. Point guard Jason Terry became the team's scoring leader during the —01 season, leading them with However, Ratliff was injured and did not play with the Hawks until next season.
They ended the season with a 25—57 record. Abdur-Rahim became the team's scoring leader, and made his only All-Star appearance in The team ended up 33—49 for the —02 season. But the Hawks still failed to make the playoffs for the —03 season, finishing with a 35—47 record. The Boston Celtics also sent forward Chris Mills to Atlanta to complete the deal, but Mills never had a chance to play in a Hawks uniform.
The Hawks ended their —04 season with a 28—54 record. After the change in ownership, the Hawks still struggled. In the —05 season , the Hawks were the league's worst team with a mere 13 victories five fewer than even the expansion Charlotte Bobcats and the struggling New Orleans Hornets. In the summer of , the Hawks completed a sign and trade deal with the Phoenix Suns to acquire Joe Johnson in return for Boris Diaw and two future 1st round picks.
They also signed Zaza Pachulia from the Milwaukee Bucks. These changes occurred after an apparent power struggle between the owners for nearly three weeks before the moves were made. Despite their league-worst record the previous season, the Hawks only landed the number two pick in the NBA draft lottery the first pick went to the Milwaukee Bucks. In the draft , the Hawks selected former Duke star Shelden Williams with the fifth overall pick.
Hope and redemption appeared to be on the horizon for the Hawks beginning in Horford nearly averaged a double-double during his rookie season, and is the only unanimous selection to the All-Rookie First Team as well as being runner-up for Rookie of the Year honors. The season started with a victory against the Dallas Mavericks —94, sending hope to Hawks fans.
The last time they won a season opener was in , also the last time they made the playoffs. For the —08 season, the Atlanta Hawks updated the colors and uniforms to navy blue, red, and silver, marking the first time in team history that they had used those colors. A midseason trade for point guard Mike Bibby boosted the Hawks' playoff hopes.
At the time of the trade the Hawks were 22—28; afterwards they won 15 of their last 32 games to finish 37— Although they finished with a losing record, they managed to make the playoffs for the first time since