A new court caps a summer of new for the Milwaukee Bucks

In a place unique to Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Bucks took another step towards carving out their place in Milwaukee last night.

The new home court of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The new home court of the Milwaukee Bucks.

In a special ceremony at the most signifying piece of Milwaukee’s skyline, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Bucks unveiled a new court design. The design takes some cues from the famous Robert Indiana court design that helped the Bucks standout in the late 70s through most of the 80s. It’s a simpler, cleaner take for a different era in the NBA.

But the event felt like a fitting cap to a summer that has seemed to be about a new identity for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Last year left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Stories came out that the locker room was a toxic place, but it was hardly any more toxic than the public perception of the Bucks in Milwaukee. Even those who self-identify as Bucks fans seemed fed up with the organization and an apparent lack of direction. If the trade of Tobias Harris wasn’t the proverbial nail in the coffin for many, the 28 games that came after and an embarrassing playoff sweep of double digit losses was.

And, for as often as they have been the butt of jokes and complaints lately, the Bucks are not an organization without awareness. They know about that Wisconsin sports teams logo that leaves them off in favor of a college team. They know attendance numbers at the BMOBC haven’t been great in quite a long time. They knew that last spring wasn’t good enough. A playoff appearance is something that can be sold, but it’s a much more difficult sell if that playoff team can’t be built on and isn’t likable.

They entered this summer knowing they had work to do to win back popular support in Milwaukee and around the state of Wisconsin. So they went to work.

Most importantly, the roster has been cleansed. The new core, Larry Sanders, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo, is a group of players that are all relatively young and offer varying degrees of upside. The team seems to believe in the work ethic in each of them and has pinned hopes of future success on that group. They have brought in veterans to be positive influences and hopefully push these guys in the right direction.

But the Bucks have focused on smaller details as well. For the first time ever this year, Milwaukee will have a fan fest before the team’s annual open practice. When the team had an introductory press conference for Caron Butler, they had it at a high school in his former hometown Racine, Racine Park. When the team announced Sanders’ contract extension, they did it at a local Boys & Girls Club because that’s a cause that’s passionate to him and the community.

The grand unveiling Tuesday night was another step in this direction. Former broadcaster and recent Hall-of-Fame inductee Eddie Doucette was prominently involved as the Bucks looked to connect a successful and meaningful history to an uncertain future. Doucette was there for everything that was good about the Bucks at one time. He watched the construction of a championship team. He saw an extended run of success that spanned over multiple nuclei. When Doucette talks, there’s some real weight to his words. I suppose that’s the kind of thing that lands someone in the Hall-of-Fame.

He acknowledged that the Bucks have struggled since that run of success, but he spoke with great confidence about the journey the Bucks are about to embark on.

“These people are going to be players, folks,” Doucette said while glancing at Sanders and Henson, seated in the front row of the event. “They are getting better all the time. Every night they go out there, I can guarantee one thing: You’re going to see young players that give it their all. Because they know the people in Milwaukee give it their all every day.”

Doucette continued on with his pitch to an audience of players, fans, employees, media members and everyone else in the museum, all pretty much hanging on his every word at this point.

“So my plea to you, in this short period of time, is to enjoy what you’ve got to look forward to in the years to come,” he said. “Take time, get to know these young people, because they will get to know you if you allow that to happen.  Be patient and think about the hope of developing another championship team. Not necessarily with the expectation that it has to happen this year. Because it won’t happen this year; we have to be realistic. But it’ll be good. And with your support, it’s going to become even better.”

Authentic was the word that kept coming to my mind when listening to Doucette pitch the 2013 version of his beloved Bucks. Maybe this team isn’t going to be great right away, but he believes in the people building this thing. He believes they know what they are doing from a basketball perspective and he believes that they care about doing things right in Milwaukee and for Milwaukee.

For the first time in a long time, people in Milwaukee may start to believe that as well.


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  1. The new court does has a classy and enduring look, aspects the Bucks have not had much of in their gaudy marketing history and frankly their rosters throughout the 2000s.

    The marketing folks for the team are doing an excellent job and the roster management moves seem oddly to be in tune with the overall marketing push. Fan-centric rebranding of the Bucks has occurred recently. Not that most moves for NBA franchises shouldn’t be done with fans in mind, but it seems that the entire Bucks roster was constructed with fan-friendly players on purpose.

    The Bucks could very well be successful in a few years mimicking what the pacers and spurs have done. Sure, Tim Duncan was a top pick 16 years ago but He isn’t a top caliber star any more yet the spurs have been able to thrive outside the lottery.

    Despite not having a lottery pick for the past 16 drafts, the Spurs have remained a perennial contender. They have done this via great coaching, and great roster management. The Spurs hit on several impressive late-round picks during the last 15 years:

    57 Ginobli
    28 Parker
    26 Salmons
    55 Scola
    28 Udrih
    28 Splitter
    45 Dragic

    And of course they make smart trades and free-agent moves.

    During Hammond’s stint with the Pistons, they appeared in two NBA finals and won 50+ games in seven consecutive seasons with only one core player that was a lottery pick for them, Rip Hamilton, who was good but not a top tier star:

    Rasheed Wallace – acquired for little in a trade with the Hawks
    Chauncy Billups – signed for 6 yrs 35 mil after a solid season in MN
    Rip Hamilton – pick 7 1999
    Ben Wallace – originally undrafted, obtained in a trade with ORL
    Tayshaun Prince – pick 23 2002

    Few teams try to take the Bucks or Pacers route. Many more try rebuilding through collapse. The truth is that the success rate for either method is about the same. That being said I like what the Bucks are doing to find their place in the Milwaukee community rather than just being an NBA team that happens to play in Milwaukee. I’m really buying into it.

    • I guess what it all boils down to is what we consider success to be. Is it realistic to expect the Bucks to win a title? Is just a deep playoff the most we can expect? The three teams you mentioned have had varying degrees of success.The Spurs have won titles but only with Duncan (or Robinson) I their primes. Parker and Ginobli were also aquired when the Spurs were light years ahead of everyone else in scouting foreign born players. Detroit one one title and although they only drafted Rip, Billups and Wallace were both high draft picks. Indiana hasn’t won a title and based on the top heavy nature of the East, will be hard pressed to win one with their current roster.

      I think what we can agree on is you need at least one star to win a title. How you aquire that star is debatable. Miami and L.A. can sign them as free agents. Milwaukee can’t really compete in that market. Trading is an option, but Milwaukee has to be careful not to get Gary Paytoned in a deal like that. The Bucks best option is to draft a star. Of course there are stars to be had later in the draft, but a preponderance of the great players in the league were picked high in the lottery. I have no problem with tanking this year to improve the chances of the Bucks getting a star.

      • Success is kind of hard to define because the goal post keeps moving. However, after investing in tickets, shirts, hats, sox or even league pass, I would like at least a 50/50 chance they’ll win that game. 60% even better.

        As an observer, I could just not watch much for a year while the team tanks. As an owner/manager needing to build a new arena, in a weak economy, I can understand why tanking is just not an option.

        I hope their effort to bring in some old friends and some new faces goes a long way to improving the excitement they can generate with the Milwaukee fan base.

      • Duncan’s game was starting to decline the last year they won a title (2007), not that he wasn’t and isn’t still good but saying he was in his prime is statistically false. The spurs were a bounce of the ball away from winning the title this past year despite Duncan’s advanced age. In the eyes of Spurs and Pacers fans both of their respective teams are successful.

        Teams including the Bucks have been recruiting European players for decades now, the premise that SA landed Parker simply because other teams weren’t looking internationally is false. San Antonio player personnel decisions continue to be superb in 2013. Small market teams must make excellent personnel decisions if they are to succeed.

        Billups and Wallace may have been high draft picks but Detroit obtained them for little after their early stint in the league was a bit below expectations – Brandon Knight and OJ Mayo could prove to be similar acquisitions.

        • Here’s hoping that Khris and Ekpe — maybe, just maybe — will be late bloomers, too, in their young ages.

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  3. I’m not sure what to think… cautiously optimistic, optimistically cautious?
    It does seem like the Bucks did bring in a good group of guys, albeit an exceedingly large group that doesn’t seem to have been put together with much strategic planning. Also, as I may have mentioned once or twice in the past, we still don’t have a true point guard. Still, character counts, and to go along with it there is some real talent on this roster, even if it is mostly in potential.
    I like what Eddie Doucette seemed to say about getting to know the players, giving them a real chance on and off the court, even embracing them if at all possible (I might be embellishing a bit, here). I really want to welcome these guys to Milwaukee, to take them to our hearts, to give them every support possible from the fans to be successful in basketball and in life. These are young guys, even the veterans being relatively young. Let’s do our part as fans to help them, to meet them at least half way, toward a good relationship with the community and good success on the court.
    I’m also will to give the Hammond/Kohl administration another opportunity, even though I’m really disappointed in not only their past performance, but also most of their current maneuvers. I wish the best for both of them as managers and as men, but they do have to come through for us fans later or sooner. I’m not giving them a pass, but a chance. (Please, maybe, consider, possibly: a couple of our overstock for a point guard.)

  4. New court looks sweet. Now if we could gradually move our colors to green with some kind of combination of black/silver/white and away from green/red I would be extremely happy. Green/red is very hard to market and does cost the team a lot of money in potential sales. I’m a diehard and I’ll wear Bucks gear all over but I usually stick to my shirt with the deer in the B jersey because its just green/white/silver. GO BUCKS!

    • Agree, Red is used to prominently in the current unis. I wouldn’t mind keeping it as a less prominent accent.

      Also the deer head alone without the background triangle and bucks name below it is a good move. I like teams with a sole illustration that acts as a logo – like the bulls. If you need to write the team name below the logo to recognize who it belongs to it is a weak logo.