As we approach the impending orgasm of attention on the Green Bay Packers and their gigantic game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, let us save at least a little bit of attention for what may well be the most exciting thing going on in sports in Wisconsin.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Milwaukee Bucks just completed a West Coast swing and came out of it with a remarkable 2-2 record. Let’s look at some of this with a sense of perspective.
It’s probably fair to say that the Bucks, babies that they are, could have won all four games. And all of this despite the crushing blow of losing their star rookie forward, Jabari Parker, for the rest of the year.
This was four games in five days for this team that is a brand new incarnation of a franchise that has a lot of pride and a lot of history, some of it great and some of it not so good.
It started in Phoenix where the Bucks have had very little success recently. Khris Middleton hit a jump shot as the buzzer sounded to give the Bucks the win. The Bucks moved to Portland where they lost by seven points, but it was a game that some seasoning might have resulted differently.
In Sacramento the team played the kind of defense that is normally only a dream as Zaza Pachulia with help from Brandon Knight forced Kings’ star DeMarcus Cousins into an off balance jump shot at the jumper and escaped with a one point win. And finally it was a four-point loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles, a game this young team both could, and should, have won.
There are so many visions that remain from this four game sweep, not the least of which is the horror of watching Parker tear his anterior cruciate ligament, landing with a twist of the knee that left almost no doubt that this was an important injury.
But there is one thing that remains so vivid that seems to best symbolize what has happened to this team.
After Middleton hit his shot, a mobbed gathered at center court as if shot from a gun. They were jumping and hugging and slapping skin and mobbing each other. And there in the middle of all this, the tails of his sport coat flapping like wings, was Jason Kidd, pounding backs, jumping higher than he ever jumped as a player, going around and around the circle, slamming everyone, with a huge smile on his face.
I have long been a believer that great coaches can make a difference in a basketball team. Don Nelson did it. George Karl did it. Other than that there aren’t a name on the list of great and inspiring coaches of this basketball team.
They may have one in Kidd.
Watching him is a very interesting experience. He is very calm, just the way he was as a player. It looks like he is never out of control. And that kind of message transfer to his team. He is obviously good at the x's and o's of basketball, but that message of remaining calm in the eye of the story is getting through.
Pachulia, a veteran, said recently that there was real trust "from the coach to the players and from the players to the coach."
That trust, Pachulia said, is critically important to a successful team.
It seem like a long time since there has been this kind of excitement about the Bucks. The excitement started this year when the new ownership came in with all kinds of brave talk. It’s beginning to look like that excitement has carried over to this team.
We are excited. This team seems excited. And a coach who jumps on his players after a last second win seems very, very excited.
We are all going to pay lots of attention to the Packers. There is a belief that this is a team that could well get to the Super Bowl. Step one in that direction is to beat Detroit Sunday in Lambeau Field.
But as we send all our good juju toward Green Bay, it’s probably a good idea to spin a little bit of it off, headed toward the most exciting edition of the Bucks we’ve seen in a long time.
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.