I want to start by saying there is no sports franchise in the state that I have closer ties with or more affection for than the Milwaukee Bucks.
My longest and best friend in the world is John Steinmiller, who is the executive vice president of business operations. He’s been with the team since its inception and we have been friends that long. He is one of the most able, loyal and dedicated people I know.
I’ve known Herb Kohl for better than a quarter of a century. We are not close, but we are friends and I have a lot of respect for his quiet abilities and dedication and his often below the radar philanthropy. I also respect his burning desire to have a successful basketball team.
I started covering this team in its second year of existence. I can’t begin to count the number of games I’ve seen, at home and on the road. It has been an incredible opportunity for rare experiences. I have shared beers with Oscar Robertson in a hotel room in Atlanta. I managed to threaten Bill Walton unless he talked with me, and he did. I saw the first meeting between Lew Alcindor and Walton in an arena in Indianapolis.
I also want to make it clear that I understand how every fan with a computer and an internet connection can pass himself off as some kind of expert. Most of those bloggers I put in the same category as sports talk radio hosts. The only thing about bloggers is that they are generally more single-minded and focused than the radio guys who have to talk about every sport.
Having said all of that, I was intrigued by an item I saw on a blog called Brew Hoop by someone named Eric Buenning. Now, I have no idea who Eric Buenning is, but he wrote that Caron Butler wants to buy the Bucks from Kohl. My guess is he got his information from a speculative piece in the Milwaukee Business Journal.
And oh, by the way, Dave Begel would like to have dinner with Barack Obama, sing some songs and slow dance with Christina Aguilera and play Hamlet on Broadway.
The chances of all those things happening are all just about equal. Butler doesn’t have the kind of money it takes to buy a professional basketball team. He’d have to find a group to put together to do it. And I tend to wonder if he has the kind of draw to do that. I mean, Michael Jordan had a hard time finding investors to buy the Charlotte Bobcats.
However, the issue of what’s going to happen to this team and this franchise is still something that deserves serious, serious attention.
I know there is a small minority of the thoughtless and brainless who think we should just let the Bucks go because nobody cares. Well, those folks ought to go stand on the corner of 4th and State and watch as fathers, mothers, kids, husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends all have a special glint in their eyes as they approach the Bradley Center for a Bucks’ game.
It is a special occasion for many people and, although they always want the team to win, the most important thing is that they have a team.
There seems to be this headlong rush to get Kohl to sell the team. They point to his age, but he is only 79 years old, not that far away from me and I don’t feel incapacitated by the years.
There is one overriding issue about our team, though, and we ought to talk about it.
The Bucks seem almost to be like a car stuck in the mud. The wheels turn and they move forward a little and then they fall back. Over and over.
I think people love the Bucks. I know my love is not the least bit diminished by anything they have or haven’t done. I can’t tell the team what to do to get better. Neither can any of you.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned over a long time it’s that when you try to fix things like an educational system or a professional basketball team, there is no silver bullet.
It may make for abundant palaver for the chattering classes, but the search for the single solution is a waste of time. It’s a complex matter and the solutions will be complex.
They will certainly involve Kohl and John Hammond and the rest of the organization. They will involve this community. They will involve our ability to see the forest through the trees.
This team has given a great deal to Milwaukee, both on and off the court. To say they are an organization dedicated to being active in the community is an understatement of massive proportions. But there is impatience here. There are rumblings. There is almost too much wondering about what’s going to happen.
I am as impatient as the next guy. I want the Bucks to be a winning team. I want excitement on a winter night at the Bradley Center.
And I want my love to be solid.
If a child of mine were having trouble I would never stop loving that child. I would help find a way on another path.
You never, ever stop loving someone just because they aren’t all that you hoped they would be.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.