By Troy Sparks Special to Published Dec 30, 2011 at 9:38 AM Photography: David Bernacchi

This year's slogan for the Milwaukee Bucks is, "Be Milwaukee." How many fans are proud to represent the team of the unknown? The last one they used was, "Work Hard, Play Hard."

Now that slogan worked two seasons ago when they went to the playoffs and took the Atlanta Hawks to the brink of the first round of the playoffs, only to lose in seven games. That was also around the time that the fans adopted the "Fear the Deer" attitude.

The pieces that were supposed to work last season to get them back into the playoffs fell apart because of team chemistry. A few players throwing up some bricks here and pouting about playing time there, and don't forget about the injuries. You had the ingredients of disaster and the season ending after 82 regular season games.

No postseason action for the Bucks in 2010-11. We wondered how general manager John Hammond and head coach Scott Skiles would fix the problem.

Here's how they fixed it: They went after Stephen Jackson and got him in a draft day trade. Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih came here too. Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer were drafted in the first and second round, respectively. They signed Mike Dunleavy as a free agent. So will the new additions be better than last year's?

If the talent on the squad plays up to the expectations of the organization, we can see another trip to the playoffs. There should be no excuses this time.

I'm surprised that over 17,000 came to the Bradley Center Tuesday to watch the Bucks barely beat the Minnesota Timberwolves. Any other NBA team would have defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves by about 20 points.

The number of people who came out for opening night was encouraging. If the BC had over 17,000 out every home game, then we would be talking about building a new arena. But, sadly, they might average about 13,000 for teams like Washington, New Jersey, you know, the scrubby teams. And when the marquee teams come to the BC, it will be filled to the rafters.

If the City of Milwaukee asked for a 5-percent local tax from residents to raise money for a new arena, would you support it? Do true Bucks fans even care to know that the BC is one of the two oldest NBA arenas in the league? You can't just put a Band-Aid on the problem by continuing to make improvements on a building that opened when my oldest son was four years old.

NBA commissioner David Stern wants to see the club sell out more games at home before talk of a new arena comes up. Senator Herb Kohl, the team's owner, said at Bucks Media Day that the next owner – whenever he sells the team – should make getting a new arena a top priority.

So whatever talent the Bucks put on the floor every night, will it keep you interested? If it does, then you are buying what they are selling.

Troy Sparks Special to
I’m known for flying under the radar.  It’s OK if I don’t get mentioned in the same sentence as the other members of the local sports media.  When they see me sitting or standing next to them in the press box or locker room and not knowing who the underdog is, that’s when they should know that I’m the guy who’s trying to reach their level.