By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 05, 2024 at 3:01 PM Photography: Dan Garcia

Pat Connaughton has picked up a number of notable titles during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks: NBA world champion, Dunk Contest participant (remember that?) and now he can add 2024 Award of Excellence recipient courtesy of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.

The award – given to "individuals who capture legendary coach Vince Lombardi’s spirit of commitment and pursuit of excellence," according to a release – will be given to Connaughton at the foundation's annual Award of Excellence Dinner, hosted at The Pfister Hotel on Saturday, March 2. Recent recipients of the award include Erin Andrews, Russell Wilson, the Walter Payron family, Jim Kelly and, last year, TNT sports host Ernie Johnson. 

“When I look at the list of people who have received this award – Ernie Johnson, Bart Starr, Hank Aaron – it’s incredible,” Connaughton said, in the release. "It’s an honor to be recognized among them. I’m really looking forward to the dinner with the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation and its supporters in March."

Connaughton came to Milwaukee and the Bucks in summer 2018 after spending the first three years of his pro basketball career with the Portland Trail Blazers and playing four years of college hoops with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The guard was a key bench member of the Bucks' Finals-winning team in 2021. Off the court, prior to coming to Milwaukee, in 2016, Connaughton created the Pat Connaughton Foundation, dedicated to bringing "courts, clinics and character" to youth basketball players across the country. Later, Connaughton co-founded the real estate development company Three Leaf Partners in Brew City. 

Connaughton will not be the only award recipient during the March dinner, as VISIT Milwaukee president and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith will receive the Sileno Kriete Award for her work with the foundation as a board of directors member from 2014 to 2023. 

“This year’s event is all about individuals’ impact in the fight against cancer and our duty to philanthropy," said Emily Phillips, Financial Advisor with Phillips Ristau Group – Baird as well as Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation board member and Award of Excellence Dinner co-chair, in the release. “Milwaukee is an extremely philanthropic community, and I can’t think of anyone who exemplifies that better than Pat and Peggy."

“Our community has a history of giving well-above national averages; the 2024 Award of Excellence Dinner honorees and the organizations they lead are committed to being agents of positive change in Milwaukee and beyond," said Kate Braasch, Chief of Presidential Affairs at Marquette University as well as Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation board member and Award of Excellence Dinner co-chair, in the release. 

Tickets for the March dinner event are on sale now at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation's website. Individual tickets cost $300, tables of ten cost $3,000, and VIP tickets – including a meet-and-greet with Connaughton – cost $600, with the funds going toward cancer research and treatment. The foundation is also accepting donations paying tribute to those battling cancer or those who've passed away from the ailment, complete with the names and photos of those being remembered shown during the dinner. To place your donation and tribute, click here

And for more information on the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation's work beyond the dinner, visit their website

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.