As Gov. Pat Quinn tries to talk Sears out of leaving Illinois, I want to share with you stories of two institutions that left this state, and have experienced little but failure ever since.
We’re talking, first off, of the Atlanta Hawks, who got stuffed by the Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, 95-83.
You probably don’t know this -- the Hawks probably don’t know this -- but the team spent its first five seasons in Moline, where they were known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks played in the 6,000-seat Wharton Field House, which is now the home of the Moline High School Maroons. Evidently, they decided Moline was not a major league, because in 1951, they moved to Milwaukee, where they changed their name to the Hawks, since Blackhawk had no connection to Wisconsin.
Then they moved to St. Louis, where they won their only NBA title, in 1958. It would be their only title since the year before they’d traded their top draft pick, Bill Russell, to the Boston Celtics. Since then, the Hawks have been the NBA’s most mediocre franchise. They haven’t made the Finals in 50 years. They won’t make it this year, either -- thanks to a team from Illinois.
And then there are the Chicago Cardinals.
Mayor Daley was a fan of the football team when they played at Comiskey Park. The Cardinals won an NFL Championship in 1947, but, according to Sportscyclopedia, they gave up on Chicago when “it had become all too clear that the cards were Chicago's other team, and no matter what they did could ever fix that. That Cardinals legacy of losing had made it impossible for them to compete with the Bears, who were among the NFL premier franchises from day one.” Like the Hawks, the Cardinals moved to St. Louis, where they were the “other” Cardinals, and then to Phoenix, where they’re the only Cardinals. However, the Cardinals have never won a Super Bowl.
The Hawks: 53 years without a title. The Cardinals: 64 years without a title. Sears, this is what happens when you leave Illinois.
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