Pass The Bucks

The 1971 NBA World Champions

As the Green and Gold Nation anxiously awaits the Showdown in Jerry’s Palace this Sunday, nestled in the southeast corner of the state of Wisconsin the Milwaukee Bucks are beginning to generate a buzz in the NBA. Tonight’s game against Miami features the Giannis Antetokounmpo bobble head giveaway, and I’ll bet the Bradley Center will be packed to the rafters because of it.

For those of you asleep at this sports wheel phenomenon, “The Greek Freak”, a 22 year old high flyer now in his 3rd season and a shoo-in as an All-Star, has lead the Bucks to a respectable 19-18 record, good for a 6th seed in the playoffs at this point in the season, in the free-for-all known as the NBA Eastern conference.

In addition to the must see exploits of Giannis, the Bucks have assembled a nice mix of young and seasoned talent around him, featuring the likes of another potential All-Star, Jabari Parker, Rookie Of The Year candidate Michael Brogdon, “The Mouthguard”, Matthew Dellavedova, Michael Beasley, Greg Monroe, “The Gadget”, John Henson, Tiony Snell, three point artist Mirza Teletovic, and even the likes of the venerable Jason, “The Jet”, Terry. All this with last year’s top scorer, Khris Middleton, still nursing a massive hamstring injury that has sidelined him all year.

The mastermind behind the lineups every night is head Jason Kidd, who is beginning to prove himself a savvy NBA head coach, albeit flanked by what seems like an endless array of assistant coaches.  Kidd rolled the dice on the Giannis point guard experiment late last season, and all it did was transfer the talented phenom into a triple-double machine. The Greek Freak’s confidence soared, and this year he found himself on the regional cover of SI and promptly delivered his first buzzer beater at the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden, over the Knicks, in the same week.

So it is with much glee for me that suddenly the Bucks are getting some run in Wisconsin, because they had literally fallen off the Wisconsin sports radar, overshadowed year after year by the like of the Packers, Badger basketball and of course, UW football. The last time I remember the Bucks making a serious run at the NBA championship was 2001,when Glenn Robinson clanked a 10 footer from the baseline that would have put the Bucks into the NBA Finals.  Instead, the Sixers, led by Allen Iverson, advanced, only to lose to the Kobe Bryant and Shaq version of the Lakers.

Many moons ago, when Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, Brian Winters, Bob Lanier and company paraded to the playoffs for what seemed like almost every year, I had my Bucks cap and T-shirts. Way back when, as a kid, I made sure to listen to Eddie Doucette call all the games on the radio and followed them religiously. I was spoiled by the 1971 World Championship team led by Oscar Robertson, “The Big O”, “Big Lew”, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), “Captain Marvel”, Greg Smith, “Johnny Mac”, Jon McGlocklin, and “The Greyhound”, Bob Dandridge, and steered by head coach Larry Costello. Having secured the world title with a 4-0 sweep of the Baltimore Bullets, I naively believed  that such a magical moment would occur year after year thereafter. Big Lew was traded a year later, however, and the rest, as they say, is history.

That’s a mere 45 years ago, but, now, given the current status of the team, and with a new arena rising in downtown Milwaukee, the future is as bright as it’s ever been for the Bucks.  Every night they play gives you another opportunity to see something you’ve never seen before in a basketball game, namely, another jaw-dropping dunk, fast break dish, or gravity defying block from Giannis.

They might be a couple of years away from the NBA Finals doorstep, but in meantime, if offered, I’ll absolutely take another helping of this Milwaukee Bucks team, and you should too.

“Pass the Bucks, please!”

And For What