Likes and dislikes: Save Our Bucks

20131127104527-winningtakesballsoriginalgood

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.

I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

33 Comments

  1. I agree with the arrogance part. I think Hammond has done a pretty decent job and that tanking is not a sure-fire strategy.

    • Hammond has done a good job a draft and absolutely been atrocious everywhere else. If you think hammond has done a pretty decent job you arent paying close enough attention

      • It’s funny though, people talk about how good Presti is, not sure he’s done much other than drafting either. I wonder what happens to the Thunder if the Trailblazers take Durant instead of Oden?

        By the way I am not advocating for Hammond just saying that drafting can be enough if given the opportunity to draft high.

        • Couldn’t agree more Canada. People look at Presti and see a good gm but outside of the draft what has he done? traded a superstar for a year of kevin martin, signed kendrick perkins(bad backup center) to a large contract. I for one am very happy that we have hammond and his staff for this upcoming draft. Not saying he does a great job in free agency, but agree that drafting can be all you need in some cases.

  2. I really appreciate this Jeremy, your evenhandedness. Your ability to keep a number of things in perspective. And I feel defended as someone who is not dumb but who gets pleasure watching the Bucks win, as I did Saturday night when I was at the BC. There are not enough Bucks fans, which is what part of the whole issue is. And we have reason to worry about the team leaving town. Seems a bad idea for us to fight amongst ourselves.
    This post makes it clear to me why I have enjoyed reading your perspective for years.

  3. Appreciate you taking this on Jeremy. The fact is, this movement is comprised with many different people who use different tactics, but believe in the same agenda. I agree that the way Paul has carried himself as de facto leader of this movement has been perfect…however, expecting everyone to play that same role and fall in line is actually totally against what crowdsourced movements are all about. Save Our Bucks has leaders and it has trolls and it has people in the middle: They are all vital to getting the overall message out there. The trolls say things to media members and others that are totally true, but also can be viewed as terse or angry or mean. There is a place for it all, and I think that is what makes this movement compelling to those who are following it and hurtful to media members or others who have come into the sites of the less composed members of the movement.

  4. The whole SaveOurBucks thing is hacky and won’t make any difference. The guys behind it are eventually going to convert it into a for-profit venture with t-shirt sales, ads on the website, etc… The real motive behind this “movement” is the almighty dollar.

    The Bucks are going to do what’s best for the rich folks who actually buy tickets (cheapskate Sector 7 rubes excluded) and put a competitive team on the floor with a good chance of making the playoffs. I’m hoping for a few “win now” trades in the coming weeks to silence the pro-tank idiots.

    • Except that left over money from the t-shirt sales is going back into other projects for more exposure, and to charitable events like the MACC Fund (Wait, what is that you ask? A Bucks supported charity). At the Monday billboard unveiling, it was 5 dollars to get in, with all proceeds going to the MACC.

      It seems like you are interested in a couple of win-now trades so that you can take your rich clients to a game, see the Bucks win, while shmoozing and drinking and not really caring about the game. Enjoy that for the next couple of years, because that mediocrity will not get a stadium built, but you don’t care. As a rich ticket holder, you can go to the other options like the Admirals and the Brewers and enjoy your social event.

  5. Thank god that Glenn rube posted his opinion, not sure this article would have been complete without it.

  6. Jeremy, I really liked what you had to say about core beliefs. When the Bucks were scrapping through two overtimes on Friday with he Knicks, with their young guys out there battling hard — at times awkwardly, at times impressively, but generally valiantly — it was impossible for me not to root for them to win. I felt really bad about the loss, but really good about the guys we had on the floor, and their effort.
    Now, in the same situation, if we have guys like Monta and Brandon fighting to dominate the ball, it’s actually hard to root for the Bucks to win. If we are going to rely on guys like Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette, and possibly Caron Butler and Gary Neal — in other words (and I apologize if I’m wrong about certain individuals) guys who seem to be selfish mega-shooters, and who are either past their prime or just aren’t that good, then it seems almost impossible to get excited about the Bucks.
    In general, this team has been so lousy and so lackluster for so long, and done it in such a senseless and exasperating way, that it’s fairly easy to understand why any fan base would be worn down and eroded away. If fans don’t support the Bucks, I wonder which came first, the lack of fan support, or the miasmic atmosphere caused by a seemingly endless series of moribund seasons.
    It would be interesting to learn what teams like the Spurs and Pacers do that is different from the Bucks. Also, tomorrow night, the NFL channel is airing the first of two-part special about Vince Lombardi that could be instructive. I’m actually too young to remember the Lombardi Era, but it’s legend has fascinated me ever since I was a child. Along with all of the organizational and coaching improvements Lombardi brought to the Packers, what I think set him apart was a certain loyalty to his players that can only be described as a kind of love. It’s an attitude and an affection that says that while no one is irreplaceable, that no one is interchangeable, either. Every guy matters. I’m not saying Lombardi was perfect by any means, but what transcended his flaws was a genuine concern and caring for each of his players, his guys. He was as dedicated to them as he asked them to be dedicated to the team.
    If we want a great team im Milwaukee, a class franchise, then we need officers and managers and coaches who will combine a quest for excellence with a commitment to treat all of our players with deep respect and true loyalty. Sometimes its necessary and even good to trade a guy or otherwise let him go, but these things shouldn’t be done lightly, as if it’s a fantasy team. There’s a personal element in sports that is often overlooked amidst the dunks and flash and strutting and statistics. It was Lombardi’s heart, as well as his head, that turned a team that had just one win the prior season, and had been dismal for a decade, into perhaps the greatest team in the history of sports. Just listen to what aging ex-Packers say about the man a half-century later. It’s something that all of us fans can take to heart in the way we support each and every player on the Bucks… so as to deserve the kind of team that is a true winner on and off the court.

  7. Not sure why anyones criticizing Hammond. If you really look at Hammonds resume with what hes done here, hes only really made 1 legitimate bad move being the Tobias trade. His signings are about as good as he could’ve done given the situation and his drafts have been very good. If you give the guy some time hes got the franchise going in a good direction. Just look at the East, most of the teams are pretty bad right now and going into next year if we do get a good pick (please Jabari Parker) we can easily begin making a very strong team going into the future. If you think about it, with how good/young our group is, we could be a top 4 seed in the next 2-4 years and that success could last for a long time. Just be patient.

    Also I do have to say that I am someone who hopes for losses like you noted, however I’m still rooting for them game in and game out, but if they lose it doesn’t really bother me.

    • One mistake? He signed Delfino who was already injured and hasn’t played a game. We are paying 8 million dollars for Caron Butler this year. Trading for Monta Ellis while Steph Curry was on the table. He offered Jennings and Ellis contracts that were so far above market value that the rest of the NBA didn’t even come close to offering anything near it. Corey Magette. Stephen Jackson. Yi. Joe Alexander. DREW GOODEN ON A 5 YEAR CONTRACT!

      This was all just off the top of my head.

  8. There simply is no big mystery here. The Bucks will NEVER be a quality organization until Kohl has no control. Look, we have over 25 years of results and based on creating a winning culture, post-season success, and developing accountability, Herb Kohl is, quite simply, one of the worst owners in ALL of professional sports. As others have noted, the Packers pre-Ron Wolf, the Brewers pre-Mark Antassio, and the Badgers pre-Barry Alvarez, were in very similar situations as the Bucks are now. Only a COMPLETE organizational overhaul will lead to a real change. That means buh-bye to Kohl, Hammond, Walter, Steinmiller, Babcock and McKinney. To you Kohl defenders out there, yes I am grateful the team has stayed in Milwaukee thanks to Kohl’s efforts but if we have to suffer with decades of this farce of an organization I would rather have them move and be done with it.

  9. And another thing, any team that trades Ray Allen, a legit superstar that WANTED to play in Milwaukee, deserves any misfortune that comes its way. Yes, Kohl’s heart is in the right place but why is everyone so hesitant to state the truth: Kohl is absolutely clueless on how to run a NBA franchise. Who is Ron Walter anyways?

  10. From a BrewHoop article in 2008 – “My understanding is that the senator has people around him who have the power to make decisions but are not held accountable for those decisions,” says a rival Eastern conference executive.

    This is from 6 years ago. I am curious, what has changed?

  11. From same BrewHoop article in 2008 – Last year the Bucks had Mike Conley in for an impressive predraft workout. “I can’t believe this kid shoots the ball so well with his left hand,” one of the attorneys said to Sen. Kohl.

    “It’s because he’s left-handed,” Harris said.

    Gotta love it when non-basketball people are running a professional basketball team!

  12. I think this billboard is an embarrassment to the city and can’t help but think stuff like this rubs players the wrong way. As much effort as this young team puts in only to lose so many close games and realize that even their own fans are rooting against them.

  13. Glen are you serious?? You can’t be that stupid to think it is is the best interest of the bucks to win now do you. You think it is appropriate to pass on one of 5 almost sure fire all Stars to continue muddling in mediocrity for the next ten years or until we get shipped off the seattle? Get off your high horse you self righteous ignorant “fan.”

  14. The billboard isn’t an embarrasment to the city, the bucks franchise is. Besides 2001, when is the last time the bucks won a 1st round playoff series?

  15. “I just wanted to be around a positive organization that’s used to winning and plays the game the right way,” Jackson says now. “Milwaukee, they’re not used to winning.”

    Granted, stephen jackson is a lunatic, but he summed up the Bucks under Kohl fairly succinctly.

  16. “We let Kurt Thomas walk, and he had a great year for us. I can definitely question the way things were ran there, too.”

    Quote from Andrew Bogut

  17. “So, I mean, with this new beginning, new fresh start, you know, better organization, you know, better teammates, they’re going to make things a lot more better.”

  18. “There has been a breaking down of my credibility in Herb Kohl’s mind ever since he bought the team,” Nelson said Friday. “It’s been one little thing after another. That’s what makes it hard for me to continue.”

    The running of Nellie out of town. And its been all downhill ever since.

  19. There was a time when the Milwaukee Bucks lorded over the NBA’s Central Division as perennial contenders. In the mid-1980s, Don Nelson still had a modicum of structure in his nightly war plan (Nellie’s Bucks consistently ranked in the bottom half of the league in pace), and the Bucks ran off seven straight divisional titles between 1979 and 1986.

  20. He came to our studio after his falling out with owner Herb Kohl, airing his frustrations and upset about having to leave a job he wanted in a town he loved.

    The town loved him, too. It was hard not to, what with the squads he assembled and the successes he achieved including seven 50+ win seasons.

  21. So this spammer Sergio represents this “movement”? He sounds about as intelligent as the people who’d spend money on this pointless billboard.

  22. so if I get this right, Jeremy is telling everyone to be nice…. ok cool.

    Glen has no concept of NBA operations. Just a clue buddy, the bucks trade leverage is on draft day, not midseason, and NOT THIS season.

    Sergio, if you’re so sick of how the bucks are run, I’ve got some options for ya.
    1. buy the team
    2. move to a city with a good franchise you can get behind
    3. chloroform
    4. after the NBA finals, create the next bucks roster REALISTICLY, run down to Sen. Kohl’s office, hand it in as your resume and ask him nicely to step aside while a real basketball professional shows him how its done.

    Now that i’ve trolled, on to more important things in the comment section. I’ve made the comment before on other articles in the blog.
    I see what may have started as a 7 year plan, now down to 3 years left, in shedding terrible contracts, winning if possible, but rebuilding the roster from the ground up. There was quite the hole to dig out of when Hammond took over. I’d say he’s done a good job of at the very least getting the financial house in order and assembling young pieces. So i take the many losses with the few wins sprinkled in, with the knowledge a very solid business plan is in place. This, of course, might be wishful thinking on my part….. but as a business man myself, I see the long term strategy from when Hammond took over and a culture shift in the front office at that point as well. Sen. Kohl seems to have backed off already and let Hammond run the team. Much like most bucks fans with the same notions I have, I hope I’m right, for the sake of the bucks and their fans.

  23. You lost me at TANKING… Stop using this freaking word. If the Bucks are out there and trying to win games they are not tanking. “Tanking” is just an excuse for a bad team to be a bad team. I hope they implement a new style draft pick distribution I read about on ESPN so this word can be stripped from our vocabulary.

  24. Hey awesome blog! Person. Excellent. Excellent. I most certainly will bookmark your website along with make provides nourishment to on top of that? I am happy to uncover so many beneficial facts within the post, we require exercise extra methods during this regard, thank you revealing.

  25. Matt, you are absolutely right. The Bucks should never be objectively judged like the packers, brewers, and badgers. Ted Thompson won a super bowl and people still critique his every move. In fact, I bet you are one of those “fire ted thompson” types. Why are the bucks and herb kohl immune to criticism? This is not a solid organization that has ran into a bad season here and there. This is a franchise that, besides 2001, has not won a playoff series since 1989?!?! enough said

  26. Pingback: Q & A: Paul Henning, “Save Our Bucks” spokesman : Bucksketball – A Better Milwaukee Bucks Blog