Feb. 20, 1954

In detailing a 78-73 Celtics win over the Milwaukee Hawks, the Associated Press reporter referred to Boston’s “Big Three.”

Bob Cousy, Ed Macauley and Bill Sharman was the pre-dynasty Big Three. Cousy was one of the most gifted young players in the NBA. Macauley and Sharman were Hall of Famers, too.

On this night Macauley clinched the win with a three-point play in the final minute. He led the Celtics with 20 points while Sharman scored 19 and Cousy 18.

The matchup drew the biggest crowd of the season at the old Milwaukee Arena, 5,326. Well, as the AP disclaimer read, it was the biggest crowd of the season for a game that did not feature the Harlem Globetrotters as a warm-up act.

The Hawks needed a few more such crowds to have any chance at making Milwaukee more than just another pit stop for one of the NBA’s leading vagabonds. 

Born as the Buffalo Bisons in the 1946 National Basketball League, they were there for 38 apparently horrible days, moving on to Moline, Ill., where they were reborn as the Tri-City Blackhawks. In 1951 they became the MIlwaukee Hawks.

The nickname has endured to this day, though it went to St. Louis for 13 seasons before settling in Atlanta.