I’ve been watching this Save Our Bucks thing from the sideline for quite a while. I’ve seen all the links, all the conversation and all the arguing it’s generated. I’ve seen the billboard they built. I’ve heard many denouncements and kind words alike. But I’ve been pretty quiet.
I didn’t want to rush out and either brand them a group of renegades that must be stopped or heroes starting a revolution. I wasn’t in a hurry because this group made it pretty clear right away that they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I commend the effort and passion behind this project. But that doesn’t mean it’s all great. As with most things, there are some things I like about Save Our Bucks and some things I don’t like.
Thing I like: The Core Belief
Much of the conversation around Save Our Bucks seems to center around two very related things: The billboard and tanking. The billboard seems to be aimed at the organization and sends the message that fans, specifically the fans who contributed to the billboard and are on board with the Save Our Bucks mission, are smart enough to understand why tanking is a good thing. They want the organization to know it’s okay to tank and get a top five pick. The site goes on to explain the undeniable impact that top five picks have had in the NBA. So go ahead, tank and get a good pick. Abandon this silly strategy that hasn’t worked out and move on.
Because the billboard deals with tanking, people then are quick to say, “Well the team is already terrible. What a strange time to ask them to tank. They are doing exactly what you guys want.”
But they aren’t doing what Save Our Bucks wants at all. The Bucks have “lucked” into this current situation. The process remains the same, as the Bucks were steadfast on competing coming into this season. Save Our Bucks’ message doesn’t seem to be, “tank the 2013-14 season”, but rather “overhaul the way basketball is approached within this organization.” Part of that is doing some tanking perhaps, or more appropriately, building for the future. But the Save Our Bucks group is taking much more of a ‘big picture’ stance, one that looks far beyond this season.
The Bucks have been bad, save for a short blip, virtually since Herb Kohl has owned the team. That’s difficult to dispute. Something isn’t right and this is a group that’s had enough of whatever has been causing the problem under his watch. That’s their core belief and it’s hard not to get on board with it.
Thing I don’t like: People Who Cheer Loudly For Losses
It’s funny that I’m saying this, because I’ve sat on press row for the last few years and silently hoped for the Bucks to lose for the greater good. (And even then, sometimes not silently if you ask those who sit near me.) So it’s not that I have a big issue with those who hope for losses that serve a purpose. But as I quietly cursed every 3-pointer Mike Dunleavy made last season, I refrained from open mockery of those who wanted to see those shots go in. I didn’t take to Twitter to celebrate when the outcome I wanted played out.
I tried to understand the mindset of those who weren’t on the same page as me and inform them as much as possible about why I was so steadfastly against the Monta-Jennings Bucks. If we didn’t agree, that was fine, but it didn’t have to get hostile.
I’m generalizing based on the experiences I’ve had, of course, but a bunch of people are so quick to get hostile if reporters or bloggers so much as announce that the Bucks have won a game. Take it easy. It’s fine to want to see the Bucks tank for the greater good, but have some decency about it.
Thing I like: The Accurate Assessment of Media Coverage Historically
The group recently published an article criticizing media coverage of the Bucks. Overall, they indicate that the Bucks have been under covered and the true problems have been ignored.
When I started this blog in 2009, I did it specifically for that reason. It seemed like no one was talking about the team and when anyone locally did write about the Bucks, they ignored the larger overall failures that had been plaguing the franchise forever.
The lack of interest in the Bucks is a tough hurdle for media outlets to get over in 2013 though. Dedicating the time and resources it would take to cover the Bucks the way teams cover the Packers just isn’t financially feasible. And I’m not sure it’s the media’s job to make sure the Bucks get their house in order from an organizational standpoint either.
Once upon a time, when Herb Kohl was battling the likes of Don Nelson, Del Harris and Mike Dunleavy Sr., it was front-page news. Excerpts were taken from court cases and a lot of bitterness was publicly aired. But things were hardly any better by the end of that run than they are right now from an organizational function standpoint. So I’m not sure there’s a ton of weight behind the argument that more media coverage could fix this thing.
But the lack of coverage is definitely a bummer.
Thing I Don’t Like: Arrogance
The simplest thing for a sports fan to do is assume he or she can do the job better than the person who is doing it. It’s so easy, especially given all the information and misinformation that’s available now. And there is so much of this going on in the Bucks fan community, specifically among those in the Save Our Bucks group calling for John Hammond’s job.
I don’t think he’s been great or been terrible. I think there are bigger issues than him, but that’s beside the point. What drives me crazy is all of the people who have decided they could do a better job. Then why don’t you have the job? Why haven’t you focused on this objective and made it your mission to run a team? WHY ARE YOU DENYING US YOUR BRILLIANCE? PUT YOUR RESUME TOGETHER AND VAULT TO THE TOP OF THE PROSPECTIVE GM CLASS, BRILLIANT STRATEGIST WITH A KNACK FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING!
That last sentence was arrogant and obnoxious and probably did more damage than good in my efforts to communicate with those who I’m aiming that at. I’m totally aware of that. Sacrificing the greater good of a message for something of a cheap shot. Fortunately, I’m not attempting to get an organization to take me serious on a potentially franchise changing idea within this article. That’s the damage arrogant communications can have though.
In general, some dedicated to the cause seem to be so certain about things that perhaps there shouldn’t be certainty about. Some people assume decisions have changed because of their actions. Some people assume the Bucks have acted to distract the public from the mission their group has. I’m not saying they are always wrong, but I know they aren’t always right. Seeing people so certain that Herb Kohl called a press conference last week as a response to the Save Our Bucks movement blew my mind. I can’t say for sure that he didn’t, but it would be very surprising if that were the case.
The actual SaveOurBucks Twitter account hasn’t been so arrogant and to a large degree, I can respect the line that Paul Henning, apparent spokesman, tries to walk. I think he recognizes the lines of obnoxiousness and tries to stay clear of them while pushing forward issues that he thinks are important. That’s what this sort of thing is all about and what keeps a movement, um, moving.
But there are loads of supporters that give off that condescending, jerk sort of vibe on Twitter, where it’s very easy to be something of a jerk. I would know better than anyone, as I’m a jerk on Twitter for hours at a time before I try and regroup and rein myself in. Often a noble cause is harmed by some of those that are half-assedly dedicated to it: those who kind of get it, but then take that kind of getting it to another level and act insufferably. There’s definitely some of that going on here, though I’m purposely not calling any specific people out because I think that would be kind of a jerk move.
I wish those who believe in the cause would act a bit more human on Twitter. Dial back the negativity and cherry picking of problems and focus on the bigger issues at hand.
Basically, I like a lot about what the people who are running the site and organizing the whole effort believe in, but wish that everyone could get on board with a better attitude about how to deliver these messages. Even the best ideas will get lost without proper delivery. I know sometimes a group has to rattle some cages and take a specific approach to get heard, but there has to be a balance.
There are only so many Bucks fans in the world and doing anything that makes people feel excluded or alienated seems like it could be counterproductive. I don’t blame those who are behind this effort for alienation, but it seems like there’s something of a “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” sort of mentality surrounding this whole effort.
But, as much as anyone, I’d like the Bucks saved. If this helps move that mission forward and gets more people focused on the core problems the Bucks face, it’s a huge success and I’m rooting for it.