So, despite a 12-10 record that has surprised many and a spot among the Central Division leaders, the Milwaukee Bucks are currently 28th in attendance in the NBA.
My first instinct is to be disappointed. To chide all Milwaukeeans for not turning out to support their basketball team.
My second instinct is to applaud.
I applaud Milwaukee for not falling for the current iteration of the Milwaukee Bucks. I’ve been saying for quite some time that my preferred path for this franchise is one that involves quite a bit of rebuilding. Without a star, there’s little hope in Milwaukee. Sure, it’s not so simple as to declare “IT IS TIME TO REBUILD” and have a star fall into your lap, but certainly there is more the Bucks could have done over the past few years to get a star. There has been no effort made to take steps necessary to secure a top level talent for the Bucks since the 2009 draft. Instead, the organization has been steadfast in its quest for a first round exit from the playoffs for the past three seasons.
I don’t know exactly the reasoning behind the drive for mediocrity, but logic would indicate that the risk of blowing up a team would be too great. Fans would stay away while the Bucks rebuilt themselves over a three or four years period. Shooting for the playoffs in theory would be a more noble cause. One that fans could get behind.
But fans are not getting behind these Milwaukee Bucks, regardless of their cause. The attendance numbers speak for themselves. Sure, the Bucks are sixth in the Eastern Conference as of today, but their resume is fraudulent. They’re a house built on a shoddy frame, one that can’t really survive the wear and tear of time and it appears the fans are aware of it.
It’s not like the citizens of Milwaukee don’t enjoy basketball though. I see people all over the city in Celtics shirts and Derrick Rose jerseys. Plenty of those in attendance for Milwaukee’s game against the Clippers last Saturday were passionate in their support of … Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. One young man had a life size cut out of Griffin and was toting it about in the Courtside Club after the game. I didn’t see an Ersan Ilyasova one anywhere though.
People like the NBA in Milwaukee. They just don’t like the Bucks. At least not right now. .
We’ve seen a passionate embrace happen before though. When Milwaukee caught lightning in a bottle and watched Andrew Bogut play like one of the NBA’s top 15 players, the fans turned out. That was a team that had some hope. It wasn’t just about making the playoffs that year, it seemed like that could have been a good group. There was the hope of a star with Bogut. It’s the star that’s important in a five-on-five sport like the NBA. One player can make so much of a difference.
Instead, the Bucks are 12 deep with average to above average players.
This isn’t a high-flying, enjoyable team that the city is embracing. It’s a fast paced, erratic group, stuck behind two quasi-stars who haven’t been able to perform consistently all season. If the majority of fans can see that, why bother continuing this charade? Why not get started on rebuilding the franchise now and not after the season?
Questions that will remain unanswered and ultimately, irrelevant.