Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee Bucks’

Buck Off

July 5, 2014

Wednesday July 2nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

That Mother Nature can sure be one icy hearted cruel bitch when she wants to. I have been in a one way love affair with the game of basketball ever since I was old enough to know what it was, but she personally saw to it a marriage between basketball and I would never be consummated.

I loved baseball and football too, but basketball was my favorite – probably due to the fact that my hometown Milwaukee Bucks were the only winning local team besides Marquette University basketball coached by Al McGuire, then known as the Warriors. All the other local teams stunk.

Like most school kids, I was delusional and cocksure I was going to have my pick of any major professional sport I was going to play – maybe even two or three. I would make the Hall of Fame in at least one, and then I’d spend the rest of my life signing autographs at baseball card shows.

Little did I know Moms Nature had other plans. She left my toolbox completely bare of any of the tools I would need to play any sport professionally including badminton, bocce or full contact Chinese checkers. I’m Caucasian, clumsy and never came close to being six feet tall. Game over.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t a great fan, and I followed all my local sports teams in Milwaukee as I grew up. The Bucks were my team, and in high school I got a job as a ball boy. That was going to be as close as I would ever get to participating in professional sports, but I had fun anyway.

It’s been painful to be a Bucks fan since Senator Herb Kohl bought the team in 1985, but if he hadn’t they would have left town. I’ve continued to cheer for them, but that’s like cheering for a sheep in a wolf pack. All the cheering in the world won’t help, even if the intentions are sincere.

I was holding out hope when the team was recently sold to a pair of billionaires, but that hope was violently dashed to the pavement this week when the team hired Jason Kidd to be their new head coach. I don’t care one way or the other about Jason Kidd, but how the owners handled the situation spoke volumes. They botched it to the highest degree, and it was totally uncalled for.

Larry Drew was the coach of the team last year, and they had the worst season in their history. He was in a no win situation, but I thought he handled it with class and professionalism. That had to be a nerve shredding meat grinder, but he hung in there to the end of what was a brutal season.

It’s not uncommon for new owners to come into a situation and put their own stamp on things. I was the victim of it several times in radio, and that’s why I was so sensitive to Larry Drew and his situation. I wasn’t surprised that he was let go, but it was done in a way that lost my fandom.

I know he’s got a guaranteed contract for two more years and will be making millions without having to work, but that’s not the point. Couldn’t they sit the guy down and explain things like a human being rather than let it play out in the media? No human deserves to be treated like cattle.

Not that it means anything to the new owners or anybody else, but I’m not going to cheer for a team that handles business like this. The San Antonio Spurs don’t, and they win championships. I love how they do business on and off the court, and they are my new team. Buck off, Bucks.

This is the logo of the Bucks teams I cheered for since I was a kid. Their new billionaire owners lost me in their first week.

This is the logo of the Bucks teams I cheered for since I was a kid. Their new billionaire owners lost me their first week.

Thank You Herb Kohl

April 18, 2014

Wednesday April 16th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

The news story of the day in my home town of Milwaukee was the sale of the NBA franchise the Bucks. The team has been owned since 1985 by Senator Herb Kohl, who purchased it then at what turned out to be the bargain price of $18 million. 29 years later, he sells it for $550 million.

I know 2014 dollars aren’t the same as 1985 dollars, but that’s still a tidy little profit he turned for himself – even though he also pledged to donate $100 million toward a new arena that will be built to meet league requirements. Even if that comes off the top, he’ll still be able to buy lunch.

That kind of money just clogs the brain pipe when comparing it to my little beggar’s cup that’s not even full of nickels. I know that whole chunk isn’t his to spend free and clear, but it’s still on a whole different cosmic plane than I’ve ever been close to and unfortunately will likely never be at least in this lifetime. Some people are born with opportunities others will never come close to.

Herb Kohl came from a family that owned grocery stores, and there was one a few blocks from my grandparents’ house where I grew up. We shopped there every week, and I remember clearly like it was yesterday how he would sometimes be in the store and my grandparents saying hello.

I’m not claiming they were close friends or that he even knew who they were other than people that shopped at the store regularly, but it’s funny to have that obscure childhood memory and see how it grew. The grocery stores eventually closed, but they had Kohl’s Department Store as well. I’m not sure of the details, and it’s none of my business. The point is, they have done rather well.

Herb Kohl had a lot of opportunities most others don’t get. I’m not saying he didn’t work for it at least on some level, but he was in the right position to be one of the big players. Good for him, and by all accounts he has been generous with his resources. He is a known local philanthropist.

He bought the Bucks in 1985 when there was a threat of them leaving town. He made sure they didn’t, and even though they were quite mediocre at best in the standings most of those years the entire city owes him a debt of gratitude – even though most Milwaukeeans I know could not care any less. They bitch and moan about how bad the team is, and most wouldn’t pay to buy a ticket.

Many locals constantly bellyache about the Bucks being terrible, but would have whined even more if the team had moved. I guess it’s human nature to prattle on about what one doesn’t have instead of being grateful for what one does, and I admit I’ve been guilty of that myself regularly.

I listened to the press conference on the radio today, and it wasn’t ten minutes later when calls started coming in with fans complaining Herb Kohl should have donated more. They implied he should have built the new arena himself or something, even though he has been quite generous.

It sure is easy to spend other people’s money, isn’t it? As a native Milwaukeean, I’m thankful they didn’t move out of town in ’85. I was a ball boy in high school, and still have friends to this day that work there. Bad team or not, I’m still a fan. If nobody else says it, thank you Herb Kohl.

In high school, I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a blast, and I still have friends from that time to this day.

In high school, I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a blast, and I still have friends from that time to this day.

Herb Kohl kept the Bucks from leaving town in 1985, and if nobody else appreciates it I do. Thank you Senator Kohl.

Herb Kohl kept the Bucks from leaving town in 1985, and if nobody else from Milwauee appreciates it I do. Thank you Senator Kohl.

Saluting The Spurs

June 22, 2013

Thursday June 20th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Although I’ve only been through San Antonio, TX maybe two or three times at most in all my travels, I consider myself a loyal fan of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. I absolutely love their way of doing business, and in this era of showboating maniacs they’re a breath of fresh air.

  They have been perennial winners since they entered the NBA for the 1976-77 season, and have only failed to qualify for the playoffs four times. That’s beyond remarkable, and they do it with a matter of fact business like air that’s the ultimate in professionalism. They do things correctly, at least in my opinion. They don’t gloat or waste time making foolish statements – they just WIN.

   The organization is razor sharp from the top on down, and they make it a point to acquire great players who are also solid people. David Robinson was a quality player, but also not your typical off the court hoodlum. He came from the Naval Academy, and how many NBA teams search for talent there? Is there another basketball player that has ever come from there? Not that I know of.

   Tim Duncan is also a thoroughbred. They realized the center position is crucial for any team to win a championship, and they were able to get two outstanding ones back to back. It’s extremely rare, but the Spurs are an extremely rare organization. They know what they’re doing, and all the other teams know it. They have quietly built themselves if not a dynasty, a reasonable facsimile.

   Their coach Greg Popovich is one of my favorites as well. He took over in 1996, and won four NBA Championships. He’s now the longest tenured coach in not only the NBA but the ‘big four’ major sports. He’s looked at as a guru and one of the all time greats, but he does it very low key.

   His style of coaching is drenched in fundamentals, and Spurs teams are known for showing up ready to play. They don’t rely on flashy playground antics, they play and execute precision team basketball that almost looks like it’s from another era. I love watching them, and I cheer loudly.

   My hometown Milwaukee Bucks used to be a lot like the Spurs. When I was a kid they always made the playoffs, and at one stretch they won seven straight division championships.  But then they’d always run into a monster team in the playoffs and never be able to get over the big hump. It was frustrating at the time, but looking back the Bucks were a great franchise for many years.

   That’s no longer the case, and the Bucks have been mired in mediocrity for so long I lost track. I live in the Chicago area now, and I admit I follow the Bulls. I don’t dislike them, and they have a rich history as well. The ‘90s were amazing with Michael Jordan, but after that they fell off the face of the planet for many years and it’s only lately they’re starting to become winners again.

   The Spurs have done it year in and year out, and I can’t help but cheer for them. Excellence has a formula, and not everyone can achieve it much less maintain it. That goes for anything, not just sports teams. I have always aimed for excellence, but have not come within reach. It’s frustrating on one hand, but on the other it makes me have even greater respect for the few who do attain it.

   I was sad to see the Spurs lose to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals tonight. I’m not even that big of a basketball fan anymore, and a lot has to do with the way the Heat put their team together by buying it. Sure, why shouldn’t they win it all? They did it the easy way. The Spurs played the hand they were dealt, and have shown consistency for a long time. The Heat have now won back to back titles, but let’s see how their legacy matches up with the Spurs. They’re still my favorite.