The 1993–94 NBA season was the Hawks' 45th season in the NBA and 26th season in Atlanta. In the offseason, Michael Jordan shocked the NBA by announcing his retirement. This meant that various teams in the league had an opportunity to contend for a championship. The Hawks finished first in the Central Division with a 57-25 record. In the playoffs, the Hawks defeated the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, but lost to the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the semifinals.
The Hawks hired Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens as their new coach. Wilkens was a star guard for the franchise when it was based in St. Louis in the 60's. Wilkens was quickly moving up the all-time coaching wins list after successful runs with the Seattle SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers. Wilkens employed a defensive system which benefited several members of the team. Guards Stacey Augmon and Mookie Blaylock were both named to the NBA All-Defensive team. The Hawks would emerge in first place when the first half of the season was complete. Despite being in first place in February, the Hawks would trade franchise leading scorer Dominique Wilkins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danny Manning. By the end of the season, the Hawks finished first overall in the Eastern Conference with a record of 57 wins and 25 losses.
Entering the playoffs, the Hawks struggled, as they needed the full five games to get past the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Hawks were upset by the Indiana Pacers in 6 games.