(We’re counting down the best 20 Bucks since 1991 over the next few weeks. It’s something to do with the lockout sucking the life out of NBA fans. We continue with number 13. Frank Brickowski. You’re damn right it’s Frank Brickowski. – Jeremy)
Square jaw, squarer haircut. When looking back on pictures of his playing days, Frank Brickowski looks more fit for the part of Hank Hill in a live action King of the Hill movie than a guy tasked with helping seal off Grant Hill. It’s easy to write him off as a role player without even looking at his statistics. Tall, white, muscle-bound NBA players don’t often do much more than rebound, set hard screens, jab opponents in the ribs when refs aren’t looking. And by the end of his career, this was largely what Brickowski was reduced to.
Search Youtube for Frank Brickowski highlights and you’ll find little more than a back and forth with Dennis Rodman and a clip of a couple of dunks. In one breakdown of his ejection during the 1996 Finals after a dust-up with Rodman, Bulls coach Phil Jackson laments the use of Brickowski as something of a “goon”, saying he was too talented for that.
That was the Brickowski Milwaukee knew a little bit about.
After a strong start in San Antonio, Brickowski’s playing time and numbers both began to dwindle. But Milwaukee saw Brickowski as a solution for their size and inside toughness problems. The Bucks traded fan-favorite Paul Pressey to the Spurs in the summer of 1990. The results were everything they could have hoped for at first. Brickowski averaged 12.6 points in just 25 minutes per game, banging away inside for putbacks and showing off a surprising amount of athleticism around the hoop. He complemented the feathery outside game of starting center Jack Sikma perfectly.
In three full seasons with the Bucks, Brickowski twice led the team in field goal percentage after finishing second on the team in his first season. By his third season, Brickowski was taking on as big a scoring role as he ever had in his career. He led the 1992-93 Bucks in scoring, averaging a career best 16.9 points per game.
Brickowski didn’t stray too far from his roots as the intense hustle guy though. After a 1991 arrest for possession of an ounce of marijuana, he swore at a news photographer outside of a courthouse after pleading guilty. Were he able to box out the photographer and throw a well-disguised elbow, I’m sure he would have preferred that move instead.
The team was unable to generate much in terms of wins after a playoff appearance in Brick’s first season. It turns out a successful formula in the early 90s NBA wasn’t terrible guard play and a front line led by Frank Brickowski. But it’s tough to fault Brickowski for taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to him.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook.