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The franchise was formed in 1946 as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (named after Tri-City native Black Hawk) of the National Basketball League; it was based in the tri-city area between Moline, Illinois, Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa (now called the Quad Cities). Some sources state the team started the 1946-47 NBL season as the Buffalo Bisons and relocated to the Tri-Cities early in the season. When the NBL merged with the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball Association, the Blackhawks reached the playoffs in the NBA's inaugural year, under the leadership of coach Red Auerbach.