There are two things that were very important to the formation of the Milwaukee Bucks:
Marv Fishman’s love of Milwaukee and Vince Lombardi’s iron fist.
After the defections of the Milwaukee Hawks in 1955 and the Milwaukee Braves in 1965 Milwaukee was left without a big league team. This didn’t sit well with Fishman. He knew Milwaukee was a big league town with big league fans. Milwaukee represented themselves well with a baseball exhibition in 1967 drawing over 50,000 fans. Fishman thought he might have a real shot of landing an AFL team and then landing the NFL when the leagues eventually merged.
But Vince Lombardi had other ideas.
Lombardi would not stand for anyone else on “his” turf. Lombardi renegotiated his lease with County Stadium so no one else would be allowed to use the field. Lombardi did not want to deal with a potential threat to the mighty Packer brand. Playing two to three home games a year in Milwaukee, Lombardi wanted to keep his football monopoly on the state of Wisconsin.
But Fishman was not deterred. A famous encounter with NBA commisioner Walter Kennedy showed his determination and grit and was a stepping stone in a lightening quick process of acquiring an NBA team. Fishman knew he had to work quick, he wanted to land the team and get a season in before the Lew Alcindor draft. If he was able to land the UCLA big man in Milwaukee, who knew what would be possible. While the NBA was initially leery about returning to Milwaukee after a bad failure with the Hawks, Fishman was persistent. Even before Kareem arrived the Bucks finished seventh in the fourteen team league in attendance, a testament to his hard work.
Fishman was successful in turning the perception of Milwaukee from a city who couldn’t keep a team to a sure fire big league town. While many have long forgotten the owner previous to Herb Kohl, he did as much for pro sports in Milwaukee as anyone. A final thanks to you Mr. Fishman and may you rest in peace.
As for the Bucks exhibition game on Saturday, as much as it was different than the Bucks firs two it was the same.
Bogut and Redd seem healthy
The Bucks cornerstones appear to be ready to go for the season, as Bogut got his workload up to 18 productive minutes. Bogut was a very efficient 6-9 from the field and finished with 12 points five rebounds a block. Redd was held to 12 minutes, but in an early exhibition game he has little reason to go more than that. I don’t really expect him to go much more than that until the last week of the pre-season schedule.
Roko Ukic: The weak link?
As the season has begun to take shape the buzz about the Bucks is that they are three deep at every position. After a fairly poor adjustment season from Europe to the NBA last year, Roko Ukic was at best a question mark heading into this season and so far little has happened to remove that particular punctuation from him. Ukic chipped in five assists in this one, but has done little in his playing time thus far to set himself up for any playing time this year. At this rate, Luke Ridnour and Brandon Jennings will split time at the point with Charlie Bell likely getting the third point minutes in the event they are available.
The Bucks defense finally shows up … kind of
While exhibition basketball is good for little aside from making sure players are physically capable of running up and down a court and getting used to playing with guys they had never played with before training camp, it is still nice to see the Bucks play a little Scott Skiles defense for once. Even if it wasn’t totally there yet. After getting lit up in their first two games, the Bucks were able to avoid giving up a ton of points to the Bulls. I’d say it was as much the players the Bulls were playing as it was the defense being put on them. Derrick Byars, Chris Richard and Taj Gibson all saw over 20 minutes and all played as you’d expect.
While the Bulls shot just 40% from the field, they still shot 37 free throws on just 60 shot attempts. As a comparison, the Bucks shot a mere 22 free throws on 83 shot attempts. It’s evident that at this stage in their development, this Bucks team is still working on it’s defense and figuring things out. If the Bucks continue to foul at this rate, it’ll be an awfully long season. But at least it’ll be entertaining: after a foul on Ridnour, Skiles walked on the court and gave himself a technical to stop the game. While Skiles has been diplomatic thus far with regard to suspect officiating from the replacements, the clock has been ticking on an outburst from him.
Replacement officials and poor defense could make Scott Skiles as entertaining a coach as the NBA has ever seen. So far this pre-season that’s the one thing we can say for sure.