Thirty-five years ago, I wrote an article encouraging Brewer and Packer-obsessed Wisconsin sports fans to follow the Milwaukee Bucks.
Headlined “It’s too soon to pass the Bucks”, the column argued that an Alton Lister slam dunk from a Sidney Moncrief alley-oop was at least as exciting as a nine-inning baseball game, and suggested that a new era was about to begin thanks to an influx of cash from Herb Kohl.
Kohl bought the team that year for $18 million, which seemed like a lot of money at the time until you realize it’s about $7 million less than 23-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo’s current base salary.
This weekend, a conversation I had with a retail employee reminded me of that column and taught me that, at least here in Northeast Wisconsin, we still could be showing our NBA team a lot more love.
The conversation went like this and I swear I am not making this up:
Me: Excuse me, do you sell any Bucks apparel?
Salesclerk: Bucks apparel?
Me: Yes. Do you sell any Milwaukee Bucks hats, shirts or sweatshirts?
Me: Really? Because you have a lot of Packer and Brewer gear here.
Salesclerk: Oh, wait. It’s a sports team?
Me: Yes. The Milwaukee Bucks. They’re an NBA team.
Salesclerk: Ohhhhh. Wait. I’ll ask.
They didn’t. Crazy, right? But, neither did two other stores I checked and Kohls only has one sad rack.
Our Milwaukee Bucks currently have the best record in the NBA and they lead the Eastern Conference by two and a half games. They have some exciting players, including the aforementioned, hard-to-pronounce and harder-to-spell Antetokounmpo.
I’m pretty sure my sister Kathy and I saw more of his jerseys when we were in Greece two years ago than I’ve seen around here.
Saturday night, we had a great time at the new Fiserv Arena, where we saw the Bucks win an exciting come-from-behind game against Frank the Tank Kaminsky and his Charlotte Hornets, 131-114.
Thanks to my brother in-law Keith, we had perfect seats to see Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer throw his clip board and stomp away after yelling at a bemused Brook Lopez, who responded by owning the inside during an impressive second half run. Lopez finished with 25 points, including 10-for-10 from the line, and Antetokounmpo added 26 points as the Bucks rolled to their 50th win of the season.
The Bucks have 13 more regular season games, and then the playoffs start.
You don’t need a T-shirt to be a fan (though that would be nice). You just need to recognize that there’s a very talented team in our state and they deserve a little respect.
Fear the Deer!