As my Milwaukee Bucks world came crashing down around me earlier this week I found myself, as I often do, looking to Twitter and Facebook for some sort of kinship. I don’t know what I was looking for. I guess I wanted to see other people complaining about the Bucks. I wanted to see people frustrated about what was going on.
My search ended almost as quickly as it began.
I saw almost nothing.
I did see the occasional person compliment Milwaukee on its effort. Then I saw someone in my Facebook timeline had a picture from the Knicks game with a caption of something like, “Got last minute tickets to the Bucks game.” The first comment was about no one ever actually making a plan to go to a Bucks game. The second was something more simple, like the Bucks suck. I shook my head, rolled my eyes and moved on to Twitter where some people were feeling the same way I was.
All the national writers and bloggers I follow had little to nothing to say about the ramifications of the Bucks-Knicks game though. A few comments about the Knicks probably securing a playoff spot and about the Bucks having their work cut out for them the rest of the way were made. Matt Moore had a bunch of funny tweets throughout the night. But after the game was done on Wednesday, the biggest regular season game the Bucks have had a couple years mind you, pretty much no one was talking about the Bucks.
That’s our reality right now. I was incredibly charged and full of a variety of thoughts from “I TOLD EVERYONE SO” to “Can it get any worse?” to “Maybe Monta Ellis can work.” But only a few hundred people really cared.
No one ever really cares. The Bucks do not matter. And that’s why I am the way I am. That’s why I write the way I write.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I want to be a more positive person. I want to be an optimist. People at work have discussed starting a list of all the things I hate. That’s probably a sign that I need to stop hating so many things (or that I need to stop being so vocal about what I hate). The Bucks would probably be on that list. Nothing in my life has ever been more love/hate than my relationship with the Bucks.
But the hatred in me just feasts and gets stronger when I see things like this:
“It’s important for the players, the coaches, myself, the business operation, and first and foremost for the fans,” Sen. Herb Kohl said of reaching the playoffs. “It’s a lot easier to sell your product when you have a winning season. If we get to the playoffs, I think we’ll all feel that we’ve had a good season. Then we’ll hope to do well in the playoffs.
When I see that, I just throw my hands up. The playoffs are a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound. I feel the same way when I see the “look how hard the Bucks are trying” stories. Or when I see everyone get excited about a handful of wins against bad teams. I just don’t care about that stuff anymore. And it’s not because I’m a bad guy or filled with some sort of toxic, puppy-kicking blood. It’s because I just want real cause to be excited and hopeful.
So bad, I want for the Bucks to matter.
Of course people want to see a playoff birth in the short term Herb, but people aren’t running the team. People want instant gratification, not long terms plans that might involve some tough times. You know what really sells a product? A good product with a strong base of players to build around. I know “playoff experience is good for players,” but you know what’s better? Better players. And you can’t tell me you’re not more likely to get a good player with the number eight pick than you are with the number 13 pick.
When your ceiling talent wise is a first round exit, saying we want to be in the playoffs because the fans want us there is like saying I’m going to eat cookies for dinner every night because they taste good. OF COURSE YOU DO. BROCCOLI DOESN’T TASTE VERY GOOD, BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO EAT BROCCOLI. Eating broccoli would have been taking a hit talent wise in the Andrew Bogut trade and assessing whether or not Brandon Jennings was a core piece. Setting fire to this team at the deadline would have been broccoli.
If Bogut was going to go, that was the opportunity to start all over. If the team wanted to get on track to compete for a title, that was a big chance for them. Not fall into the same trap the organization has fallen into year after year. This organization isn’t on the title track right now or even a track to be a serious competitor any time soon.
I was hopeful in 2009-10. Look back. Read the things I was writing. I saw a plan, I saw a future and I loved it. Bogut was almost an All-Star and looked like a piece to build around. Jennings too. I swear to you that in February of 2010, I was wondering if that Bucks team could have beaten the Ray Allen, Big Dog, Sam Cassell team. They played such good defense and John Salmons looked like for whatever reason he turned into a star. I justified it by saying he fit in Scott Skiles’ offense better and that it unlocked skills that were being wasted in Chicago.
I’m the same guy now that I was then. Sure, I’ve watched a lot of crummy basketball since then, but I’m just as willing to believe in a plan now as I was then.
But I’m not going to buy into something that so clearly isn’t real. I’m a pretty objective person. I don’t often make decisions based on my emotions. Right now it feels great to be rooting for a team to make it into the playoffs, at this point, the playoffs are the only hope for this season – the tanking train has long passed by. But in the long term, aside from make the team look slightly better financially, what does it really do to move the team forward? The Bucks will be back in the same position next season, hoping to grab one of the last two playoff seeds because they wanted to eat cookies and so do the people watching and writing about the team.
I actually heard someone call Monta Ellis a “transcendent” talent the other day. I’m dead serious. That’s the kind of thing that makes me who I am. That’s the kind of thing that has me writing about the shortcomings of this franchise and complaining so often. I’ll point them out if no one else will because I just don’t really care. I’ll watch games, film and analyze stats, but I’m never going to be dishonest because I’m so in love with a franchise, a player or a city or whatever.
So know that even if no one else cares, I’m always going to care. I want there to be a day that everyone doesn’t have a snarky comment ready for you when you put your picture from the Bucks game up on Facebook. I want there to be a reason for national writers to think and write interesting things about the Bucks. And I’m always going to be honest and until I see reason to be something else, I’ll probably be pretty pessimistic.
I can own that.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. He’d love it if you stopped by every time you wanted to buy something on Amazon and gave him some click-through love on the banner up on the top right. Also –Twitter.