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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

The Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA are worth your time and appreciation.

Bucks effort is worth appreciating


I took my grandson Charlie to the Bucks game Saturday night and we were close enough to the floor to watch the game, but also to see the expressions on the face of the players.

I was reminded once again, how utterly clueless the people are who say that NBA players don't try and just go through the motions and that the game is a boring sport filled with thugs.

The game against Memphis was an important one for the Bucks. They trailed the New York Knicks by one and one-half games for a spot in the playoffs. The Knicks were playing, and leading by a healthy margin, the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bucks needed a win to keep from dropping another game back of the Knicks.

The Bucks led early but fell behind by a little in the fourth quarter. They started a little rally when Drew Gooden had the ball at the top of the key and threw a pass to Mike Dunleavy which sailed out of bounds.

Watching Gooden's face as he came back up the court, watching him angrily slap his hands together and then hit his forehead, you could tell this was a man who was very, very upset about his mistake.

A short time later Brandon Jennings missed a dunk then responded with a huge effort to get the ball and throw it into the basket as he fell back to the floor. You could see the embarrassment on his face as plain as day.

Maybe all the doubters just need to see a professional basketball game up close to get a real feel for it. I love college basketball, but it doesn't even bear a resemblance to the professional game as far as speed, skill, toughness and drama.

The Bradley Center was nearly filled for the game and even though it wasn't the liveliest crowd I've ever heard, the power of the fans could be felt at floor level. The roar for something good, the groan for a mistake or a big basket by the Grizzlies was the kind of sound that makes teeth rattle.

The Grizzlies are a big, strong team with players who look like they just stepped out of a weight room. The Bucks are smaller and the battle between Milwaukee's speed and the Grizzlies bulk was a classic match-up.

On an "exciting play- per-minute scale," nothing comes close to rivaling the NBA.

In football you've got time between plays to catch your breath. In baseball you wonder if you are still breathing. But in the NBA you find yourself panting with the pace of the game.

I'm reminded of all of this because of the emotional and intellectual struggles this city is going through regarding the building of a new arena to allow the Bucks to compete on a financial basis with the rest of the league.

How in the world the same people who supported building Miller Park as a way to help the Brewers compete can't have the same passion about the Bucks is beyond me.

Something is at play here that I don't recognize.

Nothing matches the NBA and a Bucks game on a Saturday night. Granted, there are things that could be done by the league to make things more attractive – shorten the season by a little bit, for one thing.

But losing this team would be a terrible blow to the image of Milwaukee, which needs all the positive help it can get.

Talkbacks

mikeb | April 4, 2012 at 7:33 a.m. (report)

A few thoughts: The abbreviated season has helped the quality of a regular season Bucks game. The games are being played with more of a sense of urgency than they usually are. I think an 82 game NBA season is too long, The problem with the NBA is the thought that all the small market teams are going to lose their players to places like LA. NY or Miami. "The Decision" didn't help that. Chris Paul didn't help that. The Dwight Howard saga has not helped that. Baseball has some issues on that front, but we still do have Ryan Braun for the vast majority of his career. The Reds just signed Joey Votto to a Fielder-esque deal. Milwaukee is a NFL town. One of the great mistakes the city made was passing on an AFL franchise. It is literally impossible to get a facility like this built with public money right now. The Brewers stadium barely got done and County Stadium was nearly 50 years old. The BC isn't even 25 years old yet. I do think it would be a wise investment that would spur growth (especially if it was part of a larger entertainment complex), but I can't see it getting done.

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jakkalope | April 3, 2012 at 9:02 p.m. (report)

This city should embrace the Bucks more as a whole anyway...not just right now. Everything is Brewers and makes me gag.

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TheyThink | April 3, 2012 at 5:37 p.m. (report)

Shockingly, I agree with Dave 100% on this one (normally I disagree with him 98% of the time). The Bucks deserve and command our respect. Regardless of the ownership, these guys play hard. They're professionals. If they give 50%, chances are they'll be on the bench, shipped to another team, or out of the league altogether. Until the Brewers NLCS run last year, the Bucks were the last major sports team in Milwaukee to come one step (one Big Dog baseline jumpshot to be exact) from the championship series. The reality today is that building a sports arena using public dollars is nearly impossible. Miller Park *barely* got built and the legislator who cast the deciding vote for building was tossed out by voters. Yet today, could you imagine Milwaukee without Miller Park??? Scary to be sure. The Senator needs to partner with one of the few entities in Milwaukee who has money to spend...the Potawatomi Tribe. They need to come together and build a new arena either in the Park East footprint or in the Menomonee Valley near the casino/hotel and allow the tribe to foot the majority of the bill while also retaining naming rights. The new arena needs to have year-round entertainment, restaurants, bars, etc and not be open solely on game nights. The BC was built for hockey...specifically to land a NHL team. That didn't happen. Moreover the NHL nearly folded a few years ago and expansion, if it were to happen, would NOT be in Milwaukee. So it's time to focus any new arena on the Bucks. Make it fan-friendly for the NBA, not the IHL. Let's talk about a public-private plan that doesn't involve massive tax dollars but rather private investment from the likes of Kohl, the Tribe, and any other takers in Milwaukee. Heck, I'd even support a lottery scratch-off ticket where the proceeds went to help fund a new arena. A new arena would generate far more jobs and far more revenue than a silly downtown trolley ever will.

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