The best Hawks team I’ve ever seen? Right here it is

Mike Scott for two of his 20. (David Tulis/AP photo)

Mike Scott for two of his 20. (David Tulis/AP photo)

Mike Scott for two of his 20. (David Tulis/AP photo)

In today’s AJC, I mention that I’ve never seen the Atlanta Hawks play the way they’re playing. I should note that I’ve seen every edition of the Hawks live and in person since 1984. They moved to Atlanta in 1968.

I didn’t see the Hudson-Caldwell-Bellamy-Bridges teams, and I didn’t see the ones with Maravich, and I barely saw Roundfield before they traded him to Detroit for the Wichita State tandem of Carr and Levingston … but I have seen a thing or two. And I say again: This is the best.

Their record, I concede, is a tip-off (pun intended). They’re on pace to finish 66-16, which would break the franchise record for victories by nine games. Only nine teams in NBA history have ever won more than 66 games: Three of those had Michael Jordan; two had Wilt Chamberlain; one had Shaquille O’Neal; one had Dirk Nowitzki, and the other two were Celtics teams — though none with Bill Russell.

(That’s correct. Not one of Boston’s 11-championship-teams-in-13-years ever won 66 games, although it must be noted that NBA seasons weren’t quite as long for much of that span.)

As noted often, the Hawks have no player of even Nowitzki’s profile, let alone MJ’s or Wilt the Stilt’s. They do, however, have four of All-Star caliber. So said Stan Van Gundy, whose Pistons have lost twice to the Hawks in this 13-game streak. But it wasn’t any of the four — Horford, Korver, Millsap or Teague — who was the difference-maker in Monday’s game.

It was Mike Scott, the Round 2 pick from Virginia. He scored 20 points in 21 minutes and pushed the Hawks over the top in a game all NBA coaches dread — the first home date after an extended road trip. Now this team gets to play six more in a row at Philips Arena, and eight of the next nine. This winning run could last a while longer.

If you’re wondering, the franchise record is 14 in a row, which can be matched by beating Indiana on Wednesday and bettered on Friday against Oklahoma City. The NBA record — I’m sure you know this — is 33 straight by the 1971-1972 Lakers, which many still consider the greatest team ever.

I wouldn’t call the 2014-2015 Hawks the greatest team ever. On the record, they’re second-best to Golden State in today’s NBA. But still: These Hawks are 34-8, having not lost since two days after Christmas. They’re the best Hawks I’ve seen, and I’m guessing they’re the best Hawks you’ve seen as well.

Reader Comments 0

75 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Dear idiot, how about we wait and see how they do at the end of the season and in the playoffs before you start crowning them best ever anything. Please remember you are the dimwit that had the Braves taking home World Series rings a few years ago.


That didn't work out so well for ya, now, did it? 

VirgilLeonard
VirgilLeonard

I don't know what the rest of the season will be like but thus far this is the best I've ever seen them play. And much like Mr. Bradley I've been a fan since the early 80's. 


very proud of this team and this coach. 

Coach Bud has done such a great job they should give him the award for COY next season right now too.

kevkat
kevkat

Let's enjoy them while we can folks because after this season is over, there's nothing to look forward to professional sports wise in the ATL for a while.

Kane337
Kane337

"I thought their defense was really good. A big part of it," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We had some bad shots but a few were trying to beat the shot clock. And I couldn't find anything for us to run that was consistently getting us shots. It was frustrating. I give their defense a lot of credit."

Gary Moon
Gary Moon

Mark,


I've been a fan of your writing and insights for more than two decades. I've never posted before. There was great truth and a glaring omission in your comments. You did not use the name of the person most responsible for the turn around, Danny Ferry. What has happened with the Hawks, I believe, ranks with the turn around of the 1991 Braves. And I think it is time for a "Free Ferry" campaign. He is the one who got the got rid of the right players with their inflated egos and contracts. He is the one who kept the right players-the ones willing to play team basketball. He is the one who brought in the right coach--who did not seem to be on anyone's radar at the time and now is one of the two leading candidates for coach of the year. He is the one who used middle-round draft picks well. He is the one who has the Hawks in the enviable position of having Brooklyn's first round pick and very favorable cap space. And he did it all while dealing with a dysfunctional ownership team. Yes, these Hawks may well be the best this city has seen. Yes, Danny Ferry did a stupid thing in reading a player report (written by someone else) to the owners. It was at least as bad as Coach B driving under the influence. But he has been forgiven. Ferry has handled this matter with honor and for the team he built to be recognized by you without a mention of his name is a travesty. It is time to Free Ferry before he and Coach B are scooped up by another team willing to forgive sins and recognize genius. 


Gary

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

Bring back Dominique Wilkins.  He was the best player we ever had.

Pereira
Pereira

Since 1978, only three NBA teams have won the championship without an MVP on their roster (Pistons all).  Could this be one of the exceptions?  Odds say no.  Officiating changes dramatically in the playoffs. Watch LeBron lower his shoulder and bully his way to the basket and listen for the sound of a whistle for charging.  Can't hear it?  Me either.  Welcome to the NBA.


Still, I'm rooting for the Atlanta Hawks over the LeBron Cavs, the Durant Thunder and the Duncan Spurs.  Who knows, maybe miracles CAN happen?


TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Some of the John Drew teams were pretty good!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

They may be the best Atlanta pro sports team of any kind ever! But then, that's not saying a lot is it?

SportsTopFan
SportsTopFan

The Atlanta Hawks have a very good basketball team and have the ability to win the National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship in 2015  !!!


Atlanta Hawks NBA Champions would be Great for the City of Atlanta and the Southeast


Go  H A W K S ....

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

I enjoy them more than any, and they may be better than any. The Wilkenson, Doc teams had their moments. I think this team could certainly make the finals, and may in fact...............................

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

I remember the 71-72 Lakers. That was the first year I started watching the Hawks with Pistol Pete (I was 10 years old). This is definitely the best Hawks team in my memory. 

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

The 66-67 Sixers were the greatest team ever. The 71-72 Lakers were 2nd best. Both led by Wilt, the greatest athlete of all time.

Sautee
Sautee

@ImaNitwit Best record maybe (Lakers), but the 88 Celtics and the 93 Bulls would have whipped both of Wilt's teams, IMO. Makes a good argument, anyway.

Lakerman
Lakerman

Having watched the Hawks since the Division title-winning 1979-80 team, there's no doubt this has the makings of the best Atlanta Hawks team ever. You just don't see the type of team basketball these days in the NBA, and that is why the Hawks are so fun to watch. And who needs a sexy superstar! It's not about having the best players - it's about having the right players! Coach Bud has the right players to fit his system and be successful.

As for the last great Hawk team before this season? That 93-94 squad could have been something special, but that dumbass Pete Babcock ran into the stupid tree and traded the face of the franchise. Never have liked that arrogant Babcock and still don't today!!

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

@Lakerman A true stupid-man to trade the franchise player in the middle of the best season ever up to that point.  How Ted Turner let him do it, I'll never understand.

dawgonit
dawgonit

They played horribly for 3 quarters against the Pistons and still won by 10 and the outcome of the game was never in question.  Still winning when you have an off game is a sign of an outstanding team.  I will be going to my first game in 5 years when the Warriors come to town in Feb.  Can't wait!

tekila1
tekila1

@dawgonit That's because the pistons were worse at shooting. If they play like that against a team that's shooting just 45%, they would lose. Det was clanking shots right and left. 

Kane337
Kane337

@tekila1 @dawgonit "I thought their defense was really good. A big part of it," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We had some bad shots but a few were trying to beat the shot clock. And I couldn't find anything for us to run that was consistently getting us shots. It was frustrating. I give their defense a lot of credit."

BlueRaven2110
BlueRaven2110

This is a great brand of Basketball the Hawks are playing. They remind me of the Jo Jo White " He was my favorite NBA player," and company, of the early 1970's.

HopelessinAtlanta
HopelessinAtlanta

This is basketball at it's best except it's not - at least for the NBA overlords - hello espn/tnt etc. The NBA has always been a star driven league with pundits drooling over individual superstars. They spout the tired axiom that you can't win in this league without at least one superstar. The game, for me, had become boring with endless one on one games. Until the emergence of San Antonio and now our Hawks. Will the NBA find some way or excuse to screw this up so they can perpetuate their star driven model? Hope not.

In the meantime I will enjoy. 

bfred
bfred

@HopelessinAtlanta Good ol Stephen A. still says the Cavs are the team to beat in the East.  Another ESPN woman was asking Jalen Rose (I think) if the Hawks could come out of the East, not that it mattered since "they're not going to beat anyone from the West."  This a couple of days after they had run their record against the West to 10-2.  It really makes you wonder if the so-called experts even watch games.

tyger
tyger

Giddy to be in National dialogue...


Surreal to see Hawks top of news...

Best ever? Definitely regular season...



This team, like others, judged by playoffs...

Winning 60+ games w/o East Conf. Final...


Is foreplay ...just a big, huge tease...




JHC4
JHC4

I would go even further than anyone else has. Not only do they seem to be the best Hawks team ever, but the best team Atlanta has ever had in any professional sport. The Falcons, even in their best seasons under Smith or Leeman Bennett, had serious defensive holes. This Hawks team has none. The Braves, even with their Hall of Fame triumvirate of starting pitchers, had spotty offense and suspect relief pitching. This Hawks team has nothing spotty about it. The sports fans of Atlanta need to realize that we are witnessing a first in the 50 year history of sports in this town: a truly great team without any serious flaws.

jmf0930
jmf0930

@JHC4 Well said. I am 64 years old and have seen every pro team in Atlanta over the years. I agree that we are witnessing the best complete team we have ever had here. This team is a joy to watch.

Mustardman1
Mustardman1

They are the Butler of the NBA!! Team play is incredible with no major ego star leading!!Though it is hard to compare to past teams that had Lakers,Bulls an Detroit to contend with!!

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

I did get to see a lil taste of Pete (Pistol). Maravich and Super Lou and the Hubie Brown, M. Fratello and L. Wilkens era.  I marveled at John Drew who was a pure beast and Eddie Johnson who may have been one of the best guards the HAWKS ever had.  Dan Roundfield was a pleasure to watch and Dominique, what can you say, he may be one of the best trades the HAWKS pulled off sending Freeman Williams and John Drew to Utah. The HAWKS have been winners but never like this.

I am a fan who is drooling and waiting patiently for every game.  I saw and envied the Boston Celtic machine and it was beautiful BBall to watch but nothing like we are witnessing with our HAWKS.  I watched Phil Jacksons triangle offense of the Bulls with Michael and Scotty and the magic Phils offense was in L.A. but they were nothing like what we are seeing from the HAWKS.

I saw the beginning of the Popovic era start in San Antonio with the Admiral and acquisition of Duncan and they got better every year and moved onto playing beautiful BBall with 5 championships and I believe the HAWKS in their 2nd year with coach Bud will grow and become better.  I am ecstatic at being able to watch these HAWKS play the way basketball should be played.

I say the way it is suppose to be played because it is a game where 5 players become a unit, precise, dominant and as one.  HAWK fans may have something to talk about for the next 20 years concerning this team.  I do believe we may be watching BBall History a transformation from oh so rans to bonafide champions, but, this is my dream.  I hope you are dreaming of great things for the HAWKS also.  GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MacongaMan
MacongaMan

As a friend of mine said yesterday, another day that ends in "y" and another Hawks victory

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

What's absolutely stunning is how low the bar is.  Let's face it, the Hawks in their entire near 50 year existence in Atlanta have had zero great teams and very few (if any) very good teams.  As mentioned below, the best was probably the team that took Bird's Celtics to 7 games, but that wasn't even in the conference finals.  The year after that they got Malone and Theus and had a lot of buzz but faded early in the playoffs.

In any event, don't talk to me about how good this team is until May or June.

jettison
jettison

@ShovelPlease I understand what you're saying, and I do understand the skepticism. But I don't think it's unreasonable to talk about how wonderful the Hawks are this season. Divide things up into the regular season and postseason for a moment.


It's not unusual for the Hawks to make the postseason. But it's generally easing into or limping into it - not bursting into it in 1st place, as they seem to be on pace for. These guys are giving us something wonderful to watch now - regardless of how they do in the postseason. There is really nothing else left for them to prove during this regular season.


As far as postseason prowess - you're right - we have to wait until May or June or that. I'm like you and many others - I think it's the course of wisdom to hold off on predicting how awesome they are gonna do in the playoffs. For all we know, they trip over themselves and get eliminated early.


But right now, let's enjoy the fact that they are playing excellent, smart, fundamental ball. I'm not going to lie and say they're one of the most elite teams ever. But they are growing. They are honestly just getting started, you know what I mean? If they continue on this path, in the course of a couple of seasons, they can be that unstoppable team that you know good and well is going to be in the Finals every year (like the Bulls in the 90s). The fact that they aren't there yet doesn't take away from the fact that they're having regular season success worth celebrating.

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

@ShovelPlease Enjoy the journey, bro.  It's all about entertainment and fun anyway.  The regular season lasts 82 games for reason.  It DOES count.

Pistol66
Pistol66

FREE DANNY FERRY! The architect of the Atlanta Hawks hoops machine!

clarke678
clarke678

@Pistol66  Absolutely!  Danny Ferry does NOT deserve the treatment & punishment he has received.  He and Coach Budenholzer are the two people responsible for the Hawks current success, and Ferry hired Budenholzer.

Pistol66
Pistol66

The NBA is very weak these days compared to the late 60's, but still this is the best fundamentally sound team I have seen since the Magic/Bird era. As far as Hawks teams go, there is still only one World Championship banner hanging in the rafters and until another one is hung that will be the best Hawks team I have ever seen! However, this team is approaching the second best team, the Hudson, Bridges, Bellamy, Caldwell team that had the best record in the league and were upset in the playoffs! They were raided by the ABA and didn't have a long run but they were awesome!

jimbob22
jimbob22

I remember reading that Wilt preferred to be called the 'Big Dipper', not 'Stilt'.  Kind of like how Deon's real nickname is Primetime, not 'neon Deon'.

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

My friend texted me this morning and said he had a dream last night that the Hawks won the NBA title and he got drunk with Paul Milsap and rode around on a helicopter! LOL!

TampGator1
TampGator1

Hey.....that Hawks team of Wilkins, Rollins, Roundtree, Hill, and Johnson was a very good one and took Bird and that great Celtics team to 7 games in the Eastern Finals......one of the best played Eastern finals ever played.,...and especially that game 7 when both Wilkins and Bird score around 50 each and never seemed to miss a shot.....either of them.   

Btown3
Btown3

TampG, It wasn't Roundtree, Hill and Johnson that played with Dominique. It was Wilkins, Rivers, Battle, Rollins, Webb, Carr, Livingston, and Wittman that took the Hawks to game seven. They were called the Air Force. Mark, this was the best team ever. They rebounded, and played excellent defense. This Hawks team doesn't rebound, and u are going to need this in the playoffs. I'm still hurt about the game seven against Boston, but as Larry Bird said, "They had their chance".The NBA now is not that good. You only have a couple of team that are good. I don't follow it like I did in the 80's and 90's, but it good to see they are winning. I hope the fans of Atlanta will get behind them, just like we did with Dominique and crew. I hope they can continue to play this way. But just like I said about Football, offense wins regular season games, defense wins championships.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Btown3 


You are correct. Bad memory, I guess.  But those Roundtree, HIll, Johnson, and Drew teams were very good as well.   Thanks for the forced clarity.  It was a long time ago, but I still remember the heartbreak of that game 7 vs. Boston.  But what a shootout between Bird and Wilkins that was.

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

@Btown3 The Hawks rebound. They just weren't rebounding yesterday against the Pistons. And we still won.

atlfanman
atlfanman

@Btown3  The team you speak of was the most talented team in Hawks' history. They just had the misfortune of going against other deep and talented teams like the Bird-Celtics, Dr. J's 76ers, Bad Boys-Pistons and MJ's Bulls in their own conference. Not only were those teams deep and talented but they were also well coached. For what he has done at this point Coach Bud maybe the best coach in Hawk history.


When you look at how the players have bought into this system offensively and defensively and the coach using the players' individual strengths to play into the system it is nothing short of amazing. Still marvel at how much Mike Scott has improved from his first year to now. Scott added a 3-point shot to his game and yesterday he showed he could post down low with his left hand. Making a shot that surprised the commentators because he could have easily made with his right hand. Yet, it is a tribute to how hard he has worked on his craft to make that play.


Coach Budenholzer has consistently pushed the right buttons to get the most out of this team.


We know the powers that be do not want the Hawks to succeed and that is what makes this so special.

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

@TampGator1 @Btown3 That game 7 against the Celtics still remains the best BB I've ever seen. Just an unreal game. That was the last chance for that incarnation of the Hawks to get over the hump. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

I hate the NBA......and I am starting to watch the Hawks play.  They do not play like a typical NBA team.  They play European style basketball, which is fun to watch.  NBA basketball (get the ball to the superstar and spread the court) is not......for me.  Team ball for the Hawks.  Fun to watch.    

Pama123
Pama123

Go Hawks, you can win it all

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Best Atl Hawks Team Ever?

I agree, does this mean the AJC will actually pay for a staff writer to follow the Team on the road?

The only thing more embarrassing than pro sports teams in Atlanta.......the Newspaper that "follows" them. :(

JeffHaws
JeffHaws

@BigCrimson75 What makes you think they don't? Look at the datelines. Vivlamore was with them in Chicago, Philly, Toronto, and Boston most recently. Seems to me they're doing just fine with sending a staff writer to cover the team, as far as I can tell.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@OH_IO @BigCrimson75  Drowning in sorrows. :(

Congrats Buck. The best Team won & glad to see y'all spank the Quack.

We'll be back next year & so will Ohio St.

I like our chances in the rematch!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@1337S0lja @BigCrimson75  I figured as much.

ESPN never hesitates to take a shot @ Atlanta.

They've posted several times NO Atl Writer has followed the Team on the Road this year.