Tri-Cities Blackhawks

First NBA Game Played October 29, 1949* Final Game Played March 18, 1951 Moved to Milwaukee in 1951 *-Played in NBL 1946/47-1948/49

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1946/47: Along the banks of the Mississippi River in the area known as tri-cities, where the cities of Moline, Illinois; Rock Island, Illinois; and Davenport, Iowa form a consolidation. The newest franchise in the National Basketball League began to play in the region after starting the season as the Buffalo Bisons for a few games, with General Manager Leo Ferris, who was instrumental in developing the shot clock. Playing in the 6,000-seat Wharton Fieldhouse in Moline and known as the Blackhawks (115 years earlier, it was the location of the Blackhawk war), the team struggled to finish in fifth place with a 19-25 record. Among the players on the team was pioneer Pop Gates, who was a star on the all-black New York Renaissance that won 68 straight games in the early days of professional basketball.

1947/48: In their second season, the Blackhawks go from the Eastern Division to the Western Division and show significant improvement finishing in second place with a 30-30 record. In the playoffs, the Blackhawks would get past the Indianapolis Kautskys in four games. However, in the Western Finals, the Blackhawks would be blown out in two straight games by the Minneapolis Lakers.

1948/49: With three of the NBL’s best teams making the jump to the rival Basketball Association of American, the Blackhawks were in a position to challenge for the NBL title with Don Otten, the league’s only remaining seven-footer. Otten led the league in scoring with 14.0 points per game and powered Tri-Cities into the playoffs with a 36-28 record good enough for second place. In the playoffs, the Blackhawks would easily knock off the Sheboygan Red Skins in two straight games. However, in the semifinals, they would be done in by the Oshkosh All-Stars in four games.

1949/50: The NBL and BAA merge forming the NBA and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks are among 17 teams in the newly consolidated league. In their first game, the Blackhawks beat the Denver Nuggets, who were also apart of the NBL 93-85. However, after losing their next six games Coach, Roger Potter was fired and replaced by Arnold “Red” Auerbach. Under Auerbach, the Blackhawks would go on to finish in third place with a 29-35 record finishing in third place in the Western Division. In the playoffs, the Blackhawks would be knocked off by the Anderson Packers in a three-game series. Following the season, Auerbach would not renew his contract taking the coaching job with Boston Celtics, where he would go on to build a dynasty, along with Bob Cousy, who the Blackhawks would trade to the Chicago Stags shortly after the draft. Cousy who end up in Boston after the Stags folded before the start of the next season.

1950/51: As the NBA was still making baby steps in its development, 66 teams would fold during the off-season with the Washington Capitols folding as the season started. Most of the teams falling by the wayside were former NBL teams who could no longer survive in their smaller towns. In their second NBA season, it was clear there was no future for the Blackhawks in the Tri-cities region as they finished in last place with a 25-43 record, going through three different coaches. Following the season, the Blackhawks would move to Milwaukee, leaving the small Tri-cities region behind.

1951-Present: The Tri-cities region would adopt a fourth city in Bettendorf, Iowa and become Quad-Cities, which would be home to several minor league baseball teams, and the CBA, but never again would it be home to big-league basketball.

©MMXI Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks or the NBA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on March 9, 2003. Last updated on May 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm ET.