57: The Hawks’ Magic Number

It's a hawk! (wolfpix via Flickr)
It’s a hawk! (wolfpix via Flickr)

Wilkins, last year’s NBA scoring champ, scored a league season-high 57 points, equaling his own career best, as the Atlanta Hawks routed Jordan and the Chicago Bulls 123 – 95 Wednesday…

“They caught me in my rhythm,” Wilkins said. “I feel like I’m on the top of my game.”

-Via the Gadsden Times

Oh, I do believe scoring a career-high 57 points in a 123 – 95 thrashing of the Chicago Bulls counts as being on the top of one’s game. On December TENTH, 1986, in 40 minutes of action the Human Highlight Film simply couldn’t miss. He was 19-28 from the field (68%) and 19-21 from the free throw line (91%). Now the curious thing about Nique’s offensive explosion isn’t that this was the second time he hit exactly 57 points, but it was the fourth time in Hawks franchise history that a player had hit for exactly 57 points.

At the end of the previous season, on April TENTH, 1986, Wilkins had eviscerated the New Jersey Nets for 57 points in a late season match-up that the Hawks won 126 – 117. In that game Wilkins was similarly en fuego with 21-37 shooting (57%) and 15-19 free throws (79%).

Nearly 17 years earlier, in just the Hawks second season based in Atlanta, Lou Hudson on November TENTH, 1969, torched the Chicago Bulls for 57 points much like Wilkins would. Hitting 7 of his 8 free throws and netting 25 of his 34 field goals.

Sweet Lou’s down right nasty destruction of the Bulls tied him with his old teammate Bob Pettit who also dropped 57 points. Pettit did his damage as a member of the St. Louis Hawks against the Detroit Pistons. Hitting 25 of his 42 field goal attempts and making seven of nine free throws, Pettit unfortunately hit his franchise-record points in a game on February EIGHTEENTH, 1961.

Although Pettit ruined the streak of all 57 point games being done on the TENTH of a month, he did haul down 28 rebounds that night… and he was the first Hawk to reach 57 points, so maybe it was the other two gentleman who ruined the synergy.

In any case, these three men are the only men to have their jerseys retired by the Hawks franchise. So, if Josh Smith or even DeShawn Stevenson wants their jersey number retired, all you have to do is go for 57, the Hawks’ magic number.

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