Mike Looks Back: ATL HAWKS 1986-87

Head coach Mike Fratello of the Atlanta Hawks calls out a play and argues a call during an NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California in 1987. Photos by Mike Powell and Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Head coach Mike Fratello sees how he measures up against a Tree Rollins height chart during the 1986-87 season.

During the 1986-87 season, my fourth year as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, we won 57 regular season games to finish first in the Central Division and second in the Eastern Conference behind the mighty Boston Celtics, who would ultimately lose to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

That year we set the franchise’s best record for regular season wins, which has since been matched by the 1993-94 Hawks team, though it has not yet been surpassed. Dominique Wilkins was among the 20+ Hall of Fame players who competed during the “Golden Era” of NBA basketball. Nique made his second of nine total All-Star appearances that year.

I came across this New York Times article published on April 19, 1987 about our team: “Pro Basketball; Hawks Fulfilling Tall Order” by Ira Berkow

WHEN Mike Fratello – who says he is 5 feet 7 inches (though in a pinch could probably pass for 5-6), and is short enough to have once been turned down for a National Basketball Association head coach’s job because of his height – when Mike Fratello, now the coach of the Atlanta Hawks, stands next to Tree Rollins or Kevin Willis, both of whom are 7 feet tall, and gives them instructions, it looks as if he’s calling up to the second floor . . .

You can read the rest of the article here.

ATLANTA - 1987: Doninique Wilkins #21 of the Atlanta Hawks squares off against Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics during the 1987 NBA game at the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

That season I also made my first and only music video appearance. The local Atlanta band Tom Grose and the Varsity released a 45 rpm record for the Hawks titled “Nothing Can Stop Us, We’re Atlanta’s Air Force.”

Who knew I’d wind up joining my buddy Marv Albert in the broadcast booth for the NBA on NBC several years later.

Dominique Wilkins #21 of the Atlanta Hawks and his brother Gerald Wilkins #21 of the New York Knicks are interviewed by Marv Albert before a 1987 NBA game played at the OMNI Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Hawks center “Tree” Rollins towered at 7 ft 1 inch tall, while point guard and 1986 NBA Slam Dunk champion “Spud” Webb stood only 5 ft 5 inches small.

Guard Anthony (Spud) Webb of the Atlanta Hawks leaps to victory during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo by Stephen Dunn /Allsport

Tree Rollins #30 of the Atlanta Hawks stretches by the bench during a game against the Lakers. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images