There was never a doubt we’d end up here.
Ask any NBA fan if there is a Milwaukee Bucks player they can remember over the past 20 years and, after thinking for a while, they’ll probably say Michael Redd. But that’s only because he or she forgot the Bucks used to actually have a real live superstar in Ray Allen.
It seems like a lifetime ago that he was the most identifiable Bucks player. At that time, Allen was as associated with the Bucks as they were with him. But Allen moved on quickly. He had success leading the Seattle Sonics and ultimate success with the Boston Celtics. Now, the Bucks are almost just a footnote in Allen’s career. Milwaukee seems little more than the spot where he began his pre-game routine, fine tuned it, perfected it.
In Allen’s NBA life, the Bucks are the girlfriend he met when he was young. He was serious about her, as she was about him. They had some amazing times together and when things were at their best, it seemed like they would be together forever. There wasn’t enough to keep them together though. He couldn’t take the team where it wanted to be by himself and the team couldn’t surround Allen with the help he needed. Things got messy when George Karl alienated his star, as he’s so good at doing. Karl wanted back an old flame in Gary Payton and Allen and the Bucks split.
Allen moved on and thrived in each new setting he was placed in. His new life in Seattle with another high scoring team that prided itself on its shooting wasn’t all that different from the one he once knew in Milwaukee. And when it was time for him to settle down and accept a smaller but equally important role in Boston, Allen was ready. He didn’t need to be the star in a new Big Three with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. He just needed to be reliable. It was the perfect role for the man who still holds the Bucks consecutive games streak with 400.
The Bucks never really recovered from the breakup. The team had the same problems surrounding Allen’s replacement that they had surrounding Allen. It’s not very difficult to imagine our feelings about Allen being pretty close to our feelings about Redd had he stuck around. Both were big time scorers, while Allen was more reliable and a better creator, his job in Milwaukee was never going to be very different than the one Redd took on.
One of the most significant differences between Allen and Redd was how the Bucks fared during each of their peaks. While Allen played with the most talented set of teammates the Bucks have had in 20 years, Redd was surrounded by an ever changing cast of castoffs. A Mo Williams here, a Ruben Patterson there, Redd was never given the same chance to be a star Allen was despite eclipsing many of Allen’s marks as a scorer and matching many as a shooter. If you’re thinking about a three-point shooter on the Milwaukee Bucks, Allen and Redd go hand in hand.
But that’s the difficulty of the NBA. It’s not enough to be good, you have to be in the right situation and take advantage of it. Allen maximized his situation at every stop along the way in his NBA career. And I mean maximize dearly and truly. Ray Allen landed a starring role in a Spike Lee movie while he was the MILWAUKEE BUCKS SHOOTING GUARD.
Currently we all take note of the near constant buzz that seems to surround Brandon Jennings, but Jennings gets his pub in a much different way than Ray did. Jennings is vocal on Twitter, shouting out where he’s going to be and what he’ll be doing. He’s vocal on the court, strutting about with his mouth moving and head waving regardless of who the Bucks are playing. Jennings is an attention grabber, whether the reasons are right or wrong.
Allen was never that guy. He was quiet and unassuming. He didn’t coral attention. Even his game was based on a simple, feathery jump-shot. Allen would scream after only the biggest of dunks in only the biggest of moments. He didn’t have much to say on the court.
His game never stopped talking though. It talked enough that it got him to talking with Lee and a starring role next to Denzel Washington.
His game made him a superstar and everything else came along with it. And while Jennings has earned himself some attention with his play and with his personality, he has a ways to go before he earns that superstar title.
Redd replaced him as a shooter and Jennings has replaced him as someone worth talking about on the Bucks, but neither has been able to accomplish Allen’s most impressive feat. Become a superstar in Milwaukee. So as we approach 10 years since Allen last played for the Bucks, we’re still waiting for that next superstar to come along.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.