The team's origins can be traced to the establishment of the Buffalo Bisons in 1946 in Buffalo, New York, a member of the National Basketball League (NBL) owned by Ben Kerner and Leo Ferris. After 38 days in Buffalo, the team moved to Moline, Illinois, where they were renamed the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. In 1949, they joined the NBA as part of the merger between the NBL and the Basketball Association of America (BAA), and briefly had Red Auerbach as coach. In 1951, Kerner moved the team to Milwaukee, where they changed their name to the Hawks. Kerner and the team moved again in 1955 to St. Louis, where they won their only NBA championship in 1958. The St. Louis Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968, when Kerner sold the franchise to Thomas Cousins and former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders.
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