The spotlights were illuminating the night’s air, indicating that the BMO Harris Bradley Center was the place to be Saturday night.
I arrived early, around 6:15 PM. Coach Scott Skiles addresses the media around an hour before the game, so I had to give myself time.
As I walked in I passed an array of performers. A drum line was pounding away, getting ready for their performance coming up in about an hour’s time. Dancers were discussing their final steps and crowd entertainers were laying out plans for just when t-shirts would be thrown out. At least I assume that’s what was happening as I walked by the various groups the Milwaukee Bucks use to entertain the crowd during breaks between quarters and timeouts.
“Manufactured excitement,” I thought. “It’s the season opening game, the one game all year where everyone in the crowd should be able to stay engaged and loud for four quarters of a game and here we have enough performers to put on the Grammys.”
I get it though. It’s an NBA thing. Music is always playing, cheerleaders are always shaking and someone is always making sure the crowd knows it’s time for them to cheer. It can be a bit much for a die hard fan like myself sometimes. Like when it’s time for a jump ball and the crowd begins to chant for one of their favorite players, only to have the techno version of Van Halen’s “Jump” drown them out because a song always has to be playing.
Those are the times it gets to be a bit much for me. At those times, I wonder if I’ve become too jaded, if I don’t really have it in me anymore to enjoy the games and hope the best of things for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Then Brandon Jennings buries a game winning three, I high five my friend, answer seven text messages with, “WOW” and realize what we’re really all their for.
Manufacture all the excitement you want – nothing tops a finish like the one the Milwaukee Bucks pulled off on Saturday night. Jennings coming around a screen with less than a second to play. Crack defender Anderson Varejao reading the play and leaping for a block a split second to late, giving Jennings juuuust enough space to launch his 3-point jumper as the buzzer sounds. The ball falling through the net despite the incredibly low probability of that ever happening in that specific scenario.
Yeah, that’s the excitement we all remember. That’s the product that sells tickets. That’s why we love basketball.
That’s something we can all get behind and believe in.