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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

The Bucks' injury epidemic even affected the team's mascot, Bango.

Don't insult the Bucks after injury-plagued season

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times.

"Injuries aren't an excuse."

You hear that brave talk from every team in every sport. Coaches and players grit their teeth and proclaim that injuries create opportunities for other players to show their mettle.

"Stepping up" is the most common phrase. As in, "we'll see who steps up now."

I think it's hogwash. How can you possibly say that injuries aren't an excuse for a losing team?

Let's use the Bucks as an example.

I don't think it's normal for a poor guy to feel sympathy for rich guys, but that's the main emotion I have for the Bucks. I feel sorry for them.

This was going to be the first year of an expected climb back to the upper echelons of the NBA.

The stars seemed aligned.

The Bucks entered the season with a savvy general manager. They had a proven coach. They had a big-time scorer. They had a genuinely talented center. They had an almost-superstar forward. They had a point guard who knew how to run an offense. They had a couple of highly touted rookies.

The came injuries and attrition.

Michael Redd hurt his knee and was sidelined for the whole season. Say what you will about Redd, the guy can score points like almost nobody else in the league. He's a wonderful offensive player and he even seemed to be making extra effort on defense during the early days of the season.

Andrew Bogut was nest. Early on, he had a bad back, like so many of us. The prescription called for rest and light exercise. Eventually, the decision was made that Bogut wasn't going to play anymore. There are those who bash Bogut as a hobby, but the guy has become a solid NBA center. The Bucks missed him on defense and on the boards. Their season was moving along until the end of December, when Bogut's back really flared up and he was in and out of the lineup before they pulled the plug.

Sure, there were bright spots for the Bucks this year. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was a surprising standout and Ramon Sessions looks like he can play serious point guard.

Richard Jefferson made an impact and is close to all-star status, but he may well be trade bait in the off-season.

The story of the Bucks, however, is more than a story about individual players or statistics.

It's about a feeling. It's about how we feel about the Bucks.

I think there is a community-wide malaise about this team, reminiscent of how this town felt about the Brewers during their lengthy stretch of mediocrity.

If you're a fan you get to the point where you've got to shake your head and think about what else you could be doing.

The Brewers turned that attitude around when they started to win more than they lost. Or at least as many as they lost.

That will happen to the Bucks.

I expected it to happen this year but it didn't and the reason, plain and simple, is injuries.

And, that's why I'm sad.


mrjohn08 | April 9, 2009 at 9:13 a.m. (report)

Dave, I actually agree with you on this. Nice article. I have great hopes for the Bucks in the 2009/2010 season. Rough breaks... Bango, I don't think we need to give a "stadium" type deal to the Bucks. If anything, the Miller Park tax deal proved/confirmed the only thing that's going to create big basketball revenue is putting a winning team on the court. Miller Park's been here for nearly 10 years and the team was tanking in it until we got a new owner that WANTED to win and wasn't afraid to spend the money to do so. I was at the BC for a few games this season. There's nothing wrong with it. It's a great venue. GO BUCKS. Can't wait to see this team gel with it's starting 5 next season. Til then... hello MLB.

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bango | April 7, 2009 at 2:28 p.m. (report)

The Bucks have the pieces in place and are on the right track to winning. Get a stadium deal done, like the Brewers, and they are annual contenders. They'll be back in the play offs next season, guaranteed.

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rnzh102 | April 7, 2009 at 10:14 a.m. (report)

You couldn't have said it better can an intelligent person actually believe that injuries to 3 starting players won't affect the team? It's great and all that it gives the other players an opportunity to step up but Ramon Sessions is not Michael Redd. Francisco Elson is not Andrew Bogut. Will this make our team stronger next year? Yes, yes, and yes.

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