I’m just not certain how I want to feel about this whole thing.
(Surely you know what “this whole thing” is referring to.)
Initially I was excited to see the Central Division open up for the taking. Of course, the Bulls will probably be the favorites thanks to their flashy acquisition of Carlos Boozer. But the Bucks have more than a puncher’s chance at the division crown. And it’s always more fun when Milwaukee and Chicago have something to compete at.
But now? Now I’m feeling a little empty. Are division titles really worth celebrating? All that guarantees, assuming I’m remembering correctly, is a home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Henry Abbott made a compelling argument that divisions really have no place in the NBA any longer not too long ago. I get where he’s coming from. Armed with this knowledge, it’s difficult for me to get too amped up with annual division wins as a potential ceiling, if that is indeed where the ceiling sits. If the Bucks pull down a victory in the first round of the playoffs for the next few years and lose to the Heat in round two or three, will that just bum me out more than the constant losing that dominated the majority of my life as a Bucks fan?
Confused and uncertain, I went to my father for his recollections of what the 80’s were like. Because, honestly, the situation the Bucks are staring in the eye now is what older Bucks fans dealt with then.
“It was frustrating. 50 wins every year and then a loss to the Sixers or Celtics. We still hoped every year though.”
I liked that last line. “We still hoped every year.” Sure, a lot of teams can “hope every year”, but not for much. Nets fans will probably have hope next year, but it’ll be more along the lines of “I hope we win 34 games.” The kind of hope that he was talking about in the 80‘s and that I’m thinking I’ll be feeling now, is different.
It’s that kind of hope that gets fans genuinely excited about the season, regardless of what other teams are doing. It’s the hope that everything falls into place and a season becomes magical. This is the direction the Bucks are heading in as a real life successful franchise. That’s the thing about a successful team, you can always hope things will fall into place for them. Good teams put themselves into a position to be successful and hope the ball bounces the right way for them. Good teams simply keep themselves in the picture when it matters most.
Given the vast financial commitment the Heat will have to make to “Miami Thrice” (saw this bounced around Twitter and I liked it), their depth should be an issue for a while. Who knows if everyone will remain healthy there. Hell, who knows if everyone will remain healthy here. So many things can happen over the course of an NBA season, it’s kind of silly to try and project too far in advance.
And yet I do.
I blame the Bucks. If they hadn’t suddenly become a respectable franchise in the year heading into MEGA-FREE-AGENCY!!!, I could still allow my hopes to continue to sulk through each year. But not only did the Bucks become a bonafide playoff team last season, they went out and significantly (depending on who you ask) upgraded at least two positions on their roster this summer. Perhaps not with arguably the games best player and a perennial all star, but good players nonetheless. Players good enough to win games, but not good enough to shed the underdog label that’s sure to follow the Bucks the next few years.
So maybe this is a blessing. The underdog label is the most wonderful of things. It can bring teams together, make deviants believers and unify masses. The ability to remain an underdog year in and year out typically isn’t easy, but The Super Team has just made it possible for a squad like the Bucks. I’ve worried about a drop off after the magic of last season, complacency and all that, but the Bucks will be flying under the radar once again heading into next season.
Chips can rest easily on the shoulders of the men in red and green as fresh, new look teams like the Knicks, Bulls and obviously the Heat soak up attention while basking in the glorious new scent of victory. Meanwhile the Bucks will prod along and do their thing as they’ve been doing since last February.
I’m starting to realize how I feel about “this whole thing”. And it’s not too bad. I see the light at the end of this tunnel. I see how the Bucks fit in.