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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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Brandon Jennings returned to Milwaukee for the first time since being traded to the Detroit Pistons. It was an anticlimactic experience for all involved.
Brandon Jennings returned to Milwaukee for the first time since being traded to the Detroit Pistons. It was an anticlimactic experience for all involved. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Jennings' return a dud

A couple of weeks ago, Greg Jennings returned to Lambeau Field for the first time in the colors of a divisional rival.

On Wednesday, Brandon Jennings returned to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the first time in the colors of a divisional rival.

No one cared.

Well, somebody, maybe, did.

Greg Jennings was all about mending fences by the time the Minnesota Vikings trekked to Green Bay. The vitriol had long since passed. I honestly forgot about the "event" until some TV reporters asked James Jones about it a few days before.

You could say the same thing about Brandon Jennings’ return. There was some chatter about it when the schedule was announced, and when the Bucks went up to Detroit, but it wasn’t a hot topic of conversation (at least any I heard).

Brandon Jennings said before tipoff on Wednesday he "heard" he’d get booed, but expected a "mixture" of booing and cheering upon his introduction wearing Detroit Pistons blue and red.

"It was fun, actually," he said of his four years with the Bucks. "Just with everything. The fans, they stuck with us for the four years between the good and the bad. They supported us through everything. We had some great times, making the playoffs my rookie year and also making the playoffs last year. I had a lot of great memories here."

Those fans were merciless however. There was no mixture, save for a guy who had a sign saying he came from Denver to see Jennings. The BMO Harris faithful booed Jennings at his introduction, as he brought the ball up the floor, and as he took shots. They chanted "flop!" when he drew an offensive foul on Luke Ridnour near the end of the first half.

He preened after a nice pass off a Bucks turnover that led to an easy Greg Monroe bucket in the second half, nearly dribbled the ball out of bounds off his legs, and finished the night with 17 points on just 4 of 16 shooting. He handed out 11 assists but turned it over six times. He saluted the fans in "Sector 7." He did the things Jennings does.

Such a pedestrian performance surely surprised his coach, Maurice Cheeks.

"Brandon’s the kind of guy, the kind of player that likes certain situations and I think he’s going to like coming back here," Cheeks said. "I think he’s kind of a player that kind of gets into this … he likes being out there, he likes being in this kind of environment so I think he’s going to enjoy it."

It surprised me too, actually.

I thought I’d see Jennings want to take the game over, find a rhythm shooting three’s and running floaters. The only time he tried to assert himself offensively, really, was when Ridnour defended him.

I guess I was hoping for some kind of noteworthy performance just so that I felt something happened. Greg Jennings’ arrival at Lambeau Field was totally anticlimactic, with the Vikings and Packers fading into NFL oblivion and the game itself playing out to a tie.

Greg had no impact then and it didn’t feel like Brandon had one either in the Pistons 105-98 victory.

"Returns" are a weird thing in sports. Having covered two in the last couple weeks I’ve decided that unless you’re of the stature of a Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Paul Molitor or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – you can’t "return" to a place and have it really matter much.

I remember feeling I missed out on something when John Axford "came back" to Milwaukee after his trade to St. Louis in late summer, but in hindsight I realize there wasn’t really much to miss.

Sure, guys can be fan favorites. They can be part of a title team. They might even set a record or two. But in order for your "return" to have a true impact, your stay had to have made one, and I’m not quite sure we’ll see that again in Milwaukee or Green Bay for some time.


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