Step up your game, Bucks fans
Out in Utah, the Milwaukee Bucks and the host Jazz will tip off 8 p.m. tonight. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Wisconsin or listen to one of the best radio voices in the business in Ted Davis on WTMJ-620 AM.
On Saturday, the Bucks are back on the road to take on the Phoenix Suns before returning to the BMO Harris Bradley Center next Tuesday to take on Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Tip is at 7 p.m. Tickets are available.
See, as we start 2014 – a very important 12 months in the nearly five-decade life of the franchise – it's important that you, the Bucks fan, takes notice of one of worst-performing teams in that history.
Twenty years ago, the Bucks won 20 games. The reward was the No. 1 pick and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson. Two years and just 59 wins later, Ray Allen came along. Four years later the Bucks were on the verge of the NBA Finals.
I don't know what the crowds were like back then, when the team lost way more than it won, and then when it continued to lose even after drafting a "franchise" player in Robinson.
But that doesn't matter now, even though the Bucks are in a similar situation as they were two decades ago.
Owner Herb Kohl has let it be known he's willing to sell pieces, if not all, of the team.
The 2014 NBA Draft class is expected to be one of the best of the past decade. A high pick (maybe the top pick?) would be a tremendous compliment to the recent draft successes of John Henson and, more than likely, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
I believe that Larry Sanders, once he's fully recovered from surgery on his dominant (right) hand, will be the player the Bucks gave an extension to.
I'm not sure if Brandon Knight can cut down on his dribbling and turnovers, but I'd like to see him have an entire healthy offseason, training camp and year with head coach Larry Drew to learn how.
It's a long way to say there are things to watch on this current squad that is free-falling to the top of the NBA lottery, and many around Milwaukee seem to be happy about it. My pals over on WSSP 1250 have a "Tank Rank" and on the postgame shows I hear about how exciting this is for all Bucks fans.
But I want to know is (and I'll tell host Steve "Sparky" Fifer this, too) is this – are those fans actually going to the games?
Are you there, though?
I said "worst performing" squad earlier because I don't think, on balance, this is a bad team – if Drew got a healthy group from the very beginning I think this team is easily a playoff squad. Maybe even as high as the third seed (you laugh, but at this point it's Atlanta at around .500).
But, that's not the case. There is little health and thus no continuity. The Bucks are what they are at this point, and without a doubt they will be a better team in 2014 with a high draft pick.
There are plenty of underground and above-ground efforts and initiatives that say this, and support this.
When the current owner wants to sell the team, though, he sees empty seats and noiseless cash registers in the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Prospective owners tour around and see … what, exactly?
The team is losing, but a savvy businessman (or a group of them) can see past that. The Bucks have plenty of potential to sell as far as the on-court product is concerned. It's easy to say that the stadium will be full if the team wins – I'm sure highlight videos and numbers from the playoff run a few years ago (not last year) will be shown.
And I appreciate the fact that there is a part of the fan base and community at large that doesn't want the team to leave. I am one of them. If you want to be considered a "big" American city, like or not, you need to have professional sports franchises. Milwaukee will take a huge hit if the Bucks leave.
Kohl knows this. I think smart business people know this, too. And in the end, politicians will agree.
To help all that, though, people need to show up.
Support what's there. If you say you want this team to lose, you want them to "tank" or whatever – then go support them as it happens. Show the owner (and prospective owners) that you'll be there through thick and thin. If there is one thing Bucks fans should know about Kohl by now is he likes to see people in the stadium. So, he does what he think is best to put a product on the court that will draw them in.
So, if this is the on-court product (or, results) you want – then hold up your end of it.
The other issue is the NBA itself. Unless you catch lightning in a bottle and draft LeBron James or you get a guy like Tim Duncan who is happy in a small market it's nearly impossible to imagine the Bucks really contending. You look at the decision, Chris Paul engineering a trade to the Clippers, Carmelo engineering a trade to NY and this is slowly becoming a small league making up Chicago, New York, Brooklyn, Miami, Houston, Dallas, and the LA teams.
Three thoughts X-box, Potawatomi, and NCAAB . Kids these days don't go out to the play ground and shoot hoops they sit at home and play video games. The NBA can't compete with these couch potatoes. Two, baby boomers are no longer entertained by the NBA but by Potawatomi and Netflix. Three, Milwaukee is no longer a big city and the success of the Packers takes away from the Bucks, not to mention great college ball teams in the state of Wisconsin.
There are parts of your article that I can understand, but what I don't like is that you say say "I don't know what the crowds were like back then... But that doesn't matter now..." This is 2014 - it took me less than two minutes to find three separate sources that had attendance statistics. The year before they drafted Big Dog they averaged 15,466 for home games. Last year, the Bucks averaged 15,035, not too far off. To be honest, the Bucks have never really had great attendance. Only one year during 'the big three' era, did the Bucks have an impressive attendance average going over 18k per game, which is pretty respectable. We're a small market and over the past 10 years, the Bucks have made horrible decisions in drafts and other personnel moves. The idea of 'trying to compete' every year with the lack of incentives for free agents to come here is ridiculous. The Bucks must always overpay if they want to land a free agent because Milwaukee has a bad image for basketball players with our old stadium, small market, and cold weather. With all the misses in the draft and the poor personnel moves, fans have become disinterested in the Bucks and the NBA in general. Until the Bucks do what they are doing the season, for a few years and really 'start from scratch' and are terrible and get some good talent, people cannot find excitement in the team barely making the playoffs or barely missing the playoffs, then ending up with a middle first round pick and then making a poor decision with their draft pick. The new stadium has to happen and they need to bring in a whole new front office. I know it's easy for someone to just say 'fire the whole front office' but really, when a company isn't doing well for over 10 years, don't you think it would be pretty stupid to continue with the same people making all the wrong decisions?
Jim, It's pretty easy for a guy who likely gets his Bucks tickets for free to criticize the lack of attendance at Bucks games. The team is 7-25 and hasn't won a playoff series since 2001. They've essentially now been a terrible organization since the late 80s with only a brief rise to relevance in 2001. I can tell you that the BC was often packed and very loud during that stretch. With other entertainment options such as Marquette Basketball the Bucks simply need to start winning.
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