Iowa had an NBA team. You read that right, an NBA team in Iowa. The Waterloo Hawks were initially a member of the National Basketball League (NBL). The NBL was absorbed by its rival, the Basketball Association of America in 1949, forming the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Hawks remain the only sports franchise ever based in Iowa to be a member of any of the major professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL).

The Hawks had one season in the NBA and it wasn’t a good one – they finished the 1949-50 season at 19-43, good for fifth place out of the six teams in the Western Division. Jack Smiley served as a player-coach for 27 games, going 11-16. The team then moved to the National Professional Basketball League before the franchise folded in 1951.

So the next time you’re at a party and someone says that the state of Iowa has never had a major professional sports franchise, proudly proclaim the name of the Waterloo Hawks.

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