OPINION: 2018 marks 50 years without an NBA team in St. Louis

Brandon Clark, Sports writer

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The Gateway to the West has always been known as a sports city and is increasing its status in the basketball world. The Blues always are successful and the Cardinals World Series trophies show the legacy of the organization. St. Louis has always been a victorious city including the Rams’ Super Bowl win back in 1999, the dominance of SLU’s soccer program in the 50s, and even the St. Louis Hawks NBA championship way back in 1958. On top of all of this, the city has its fair share of famous basketball players including Celtics Jayson Tatum, All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal, and WNBA legend Candace Parker who was born in St. Louis.

You may wonder what made me think of this particular topic? In history class throughout the course of the last week, we were given a project that had to be about any topic from the 1960s including music, fashion, pop culture, cars, sports, etc. I decided to choose something sports-related, and I was thinking about writing about Wilt Chamberlin and the legendary Celtics of the 60s, being the basketball junkie that I am, but I wanted to do something that tied back to St. Louis.

The Hawks had originally moved to St. Louis in 1954, relocating from Milwaukee due to the poor performance of the team during their 1-year tenure in Milwaukee. The team played in the old Kiel Auditorium which is torn down now. The team excelled in St. Louis making it to four NBA Finals and winning one against the Bill Russel-Bob Cousy Celtics. This was a crazy upset during this time period. The ’58 Finals are an equivalent to the Warriors-Cavs Finals in 2016. The Hawks had some Hall of Fame players in St.Louis including Lou Hudson, Lenny Wilkins, and NBA legend Bob Petit.

In 1968, Hawks owner George Kerner wanted a new arena but the city of St. Louis wouldn’t give him the funds he needed. After having the best record in franchise history, the Hawks left St. Louis after the 1967-1968 NBA season. The Hawks haven’t been that successful in the past 50 years, winning not one NBA Championship or making any memorable playoff runs in the past 25 years. The Atlanta Hawks do have a few memorable Hall of Famers such as Dikembe Mutombo, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, and Dominique Wilkins.

St. Louis obviously wouldn’t get the Hawks back from Atlanta, but an expansion team is very possible. The league has mentioned forming new teams and that if there were an expansion, two cities would each get an NBA team.

We know St. Louis could definitely support another sports franchise being the 20th largest city in the nation. The Cardinals are one of the most beloved franchises in the MLB and every Blues game sells out. Even when the Rams played in St. Louis, they got an overwhelming amount of support before Stan Kroenke bought the franchise. The basketball popularity of the city is growing vastly hosting the Missouri Valley Conference and the SEC tournaments for men’s basketball.

St. Louis is an up-and-coming basketball town that could potentially get an NBA franchise, but the real question is: Does St. Louis have what it takes to be an NBA city?