The Bucks wanted Jabari Parker. Jabari Parker wanted the Bucks. Now they want to do great things together.

Jabari Parker at the Milwaukee Public Market.
Jabari Parker at the Milwaukee Public Market.

The second floor of the Milwaukee Public Market had reached its maximum public capacity. There was a man at the steps leading to its second level that informed me they wouldn’t allow anyone else up unless I was in the media or with the Milwaukee Bucks. I got lucky. It wasn’t quite 11:00 AM, when the Bucks told fans their new player would be introduced, and the place was already full? I’m not sure what I expected when walked over to the Market Friday morning, but I guess I didn’t assume so many would turn out to meet Milwaukee’s new basketball player. I never make assumptions when it comes to the Bucks and positive thoughts.

But turn out they did. And it’s starting to seem like I might have to start adjusting my frame of thought.

Bucks fans, and the otherwise curious I suppose, crammed into what’s typically the eating space on the Public Market’s second level and waited to shout their hellos, clap their hands and greet number two pick Jabari Parker.

It’s probably a good thing fans came out in force to show support for Milwaukee’s new forward, because that seems to be the kind of thing he’s into. Before the draft, word came out that Parker seemed to prefer Milwaukee. Then he told reporters he suspected he was going to Milwaukee, because they came out and told him they wanted him. He appreciated that.

“The organization was all in,” Parker said at his press conference. “I got that comfort by being around the guys and the staff. They were all in. As soon as I got their feedback I just rolled with that. I didn’t get any conclusion or any say so from the last organization I worked out with, so I had to just go with what was more realistic. It was real honest.”

Parker seemed thrilled by how much the Bucks said they wanted him. And the Bucks constantly said that they really really wanted him. Larry Drew told a story about the obvious relief and complete excitement on the faces of everyone in the Bucks war room on draft night once the Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins. I heard other stories about Bucks executives and coaches that were absolutely giddy about the idea of coaching Parker going forward. He completely won over everyone in the Bucks organization. I’m not sure if he did a basketball workout for them or lead a spiritual revival. Whatever he did, it worked wonders.

And he got a good start with the Milwaukee fans too. He was applauded as soon as he walked into the building, again when he reached the second floor and again when John Hammond said, even though the crowd already beat him to it, the fans should welcome him to Milwaukee. People called for him to look in their direction so they could grab a picture. Others held up Parker Duke jerseys. All this happened in front of what was probably near a dozen TV cameras. How many stations does this city have?

It was a scene I haven’t seen for a Bucks draft pick or a Bucks player period. But Parker appeared composed the whole time, just happy to have the opportunity to do what he loves to do for people who believe in him. He even cracked a few jokes.

“There’s no better place to be, I feel welcome. Humble beginnings,” he said, before noting that Milwaukee had a market and was near Lake Michigan, which he described as “pure” with “great water.”

For the most part, this is now the guy. He’s the new face going forward. The Bucks are going to slap his face on things all over the city. He’ll be on programs, billboards, commercials, bus stops, booklets, pens, pencils, posters, shirts, bobbleheads … his face is going to be everywhere. Expectations are as high as you’d expect for a number two pick that was also deemed the most NBA ready player by most analysts. Jay Bilas and Chad Ford predict he’ll be Rookie of the Year. That he’ll average over 18 points. That would have been enough to lead the team in scoring last season.

Fans of Milwaukee basketball have wanted to be excited for a long time. But probably even more than that, what they’ve really wanted was for OTHER people in Milwaukee to be excited. They don’t want to be alone anymore. They want this to be a team that people love, with players that awe and inspire.

After hearing Drew and Hammond speak words that backed up their actions with regard to Parker, it seems like there’s an intense belief in him that even cuts through the typical press conference feel goodery. Even the biggest skeptic in the room (often me), has to think that the Bucks may have finally got the guy who can legitimately move them in a direction that gets the masses excited about the NBA in Milwaukee once again.

As Parker would tell you though, he can’t do it alone. But he wants to be a part of something big.

“I’m just going to look at myself as another guy on the team,” Parker said when he was asked about being the new face of the franchise. “When you see the San Antonio Spurs, not one person shines or overcrowds the other.  They’re all a unit. Because they win, they’re all successful. I want to try and bring that same mentality within myself.”

Categories: Bucks Player Features,Draft Talk

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  1. “Fans of Milwaukee basketball have wanted to be excited for a long time. But probably even more than that, what they’ve really wanted was for OTHER people in Milwaukee to be excited. They don’t want to be alone anymore. They want this to be a team that people love, with players that awe and inspire.”

    Possibly the most insightful thing you’ve ever written. Well done.

  2. Pingback: Hammond, Drew react to selecting Jabari Parker : Bucksketball – A Better Milwaukee Bucks Blog

  3. For once this Bucks fan has hope. Did he give a reason for picking #12? If he meets his expectations both him and Aaron Rodgers having that number will be very interesting.

  4. Here are my thoughts on the Bucks’ current roster and some potential moves for the team in the near future.

    – Non-Core Players –

    PF/C Ekpe Udoh:
    A restricted free agent – don’t match any offers he may receive and don’t offer him one.

    PF Jeff Adrien:
    I’ve see conflicting info about his status – one source detailing him as an unrestricted free agent this summer and another as having a player option for the 2014 season. If he’s an unrestricted free agent – don’t resign him. If he’s got a player’s option and enacts it – attempt to package him with a few other players on the team in a trade.

    PG/G Ramon Sessions:
    An unrestricted free agent – there’s potential for him to be resigned as a back-up PG depending on the cost. If not him the team may look at signing one of these other free agent players (M.Chalmers, G.Vasquez, B.Roberts, DJ.Augustin, J.Bayless, J.Farmar, S.Blake, A.Bradley, D.Harris, A.Brooks, D.Collison, K.Hinrich, S.Mack, M.Williams, P.Mills, E.Moore) depending on the cost or acquire someone in a trade.

    ? (SG, F?) Chris Wright:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2015 – not sure if he’s someone the Bucks could simply cut prior to finalizing their 2014-15 roster, but if not I suspect he could be someone to include in a trade package of players.

    F Ersan Ilyasova:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2017 – attempt to trade him in the off-season or during the 2014-15 season as a logjam at his position has occurred. Any off-season trade will probably have to wait until after the big name free agents have made their decisions.

    SG, F Carlos Delfino:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2016 – best case scenario is that he demonstrates that he’s not a defensive liability at the SG position so he can see a reasonable amount of court time this year and develop/increase his trade value for himself and for the Bucks; however, if he’s a complete defensive liability at the SG position he’ll simply remain a back-up at SF behind 3 other players who are likely to receive time there before him (J.Parker, G.Antetokounmpo, & K.Middleton) or he may see some extremely limited time as a stretch 4 in a very small-ball lineup. If he isn’t capable of helping out the depth at the SG position then he’s a prime candidate to be packaged in a multi-player trade deal at some point.

    G OJ.Mayo:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2016 – I believe he’ll be given an opportunity to show that last season’s debacle can be forgotten given that he’s young and has demonstrated the ability to be a solid scorer in the past, but if his conditioning remains an issue as the team gets back together then I believe the Bucks will be actively shopping him in a trade package too.

    C Zaza Pachulia:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2016 – given that the Bucks have only one young and fairly unproven bigger bodied center (M.Raduljica) on the team they probably elect to keep this aging veteran around; however, if they sign someone who’s younger and more talented in free agency (ie: RFA Greg Monroe, UFA Spencer Hawes, UFA Jordan Hill, or UFA Ed Davis) that they can either let take over the center role full-time (G.Monroe, S.Hawes, or maybe J.Hill) or split time with L.Sanders, J.Henson and M.Raduljica (E.Davis). If the Bucks sign either G.Monroe, S.Hawes, and likely J.Hill it’ll likely require a decent size contract along with the likelihood of being told they’ll be “the guy” at the center position and that the team will be highly motivated to move L.Sanders for whatever they can get; regardless, any move makes Z.Pachulia pretty expendable too or completely expandable and obviously with his trade value being as high as it’s ever going to get right now he to would be a prime candidate to be traded. Though, whether anyone wants his services for his cost is tough to determine.

    C Miroslav Raduljica:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2016 – The only true big bodied center the Bucks have and he’s a young developing player who’s inexpensive; therefore, it’s highly unlikely they show any desire to move him.

    C/PF Larry Sanders:
    An unrestricted free agent in 2018 – someone who the Bucks would like to see return to his dominant defensive ways and become a core player, but given his on and off-court mentality issues/troubles they may be motivated to simply move on from him. Tough to move on or give up on someone that’s as young and talented as he is – someone who could potentially anchor the team’s defense on the inside, but team chemistry is important and so is a player’s accountability which is where he seems to have some difficulty. Larry could potentially fetch some serious value in a mid-season trade if he’s able to play to his capability without any issues or they could probably risk taking pennies on the dollar in value if they try packaging him in a trade this off-season.

    – 2014-15 Core Players –

    G Brandon Knight
    G Nate Wolters
    SG,F Khris Middleton
    SG,F Giannis Antetokounmpo
    SG,F Damien Inglis
    F Jabari Parker
    PF Johnny O’Bryant
    PF/C John Henson

    So currently, IMO at this point, the roster looks like…

    PG: B.Knight, N.Wolters, G.Antetokounmpo, OJ.Mayo

    SG: K.Middleton, OJ.Mayo, G.Antetokounmpo, C.Delfino, B.Knight, N.Wolters, J.Parker, D.Inglis

    SF: G.Antetokounmpo, K.Middleton, J.Parker, D.Inglis, C.Delfino, C.Wright, E.Ilyasova

    PF: J.Parker, E.Ilyasova, J.Henson, J.O’Bryant, L.Sanders, G.Antetokounmpo, K.Middleton, D.Inglis, C.Wright, C.Delfino

    C: L.Sanders, J.Henson, Z.Pachulia, M.Raduljica, J.O’Bryant

  5. As much as I love Jabari’s quotes (he talked about the Spurs today…the kid is smart) leading up to, during and after the draft…they can’t beat the Greek Freek’s!!! “I love the Bucks, and the Bucks love me too.” Throw in a little Brandon Knight and we got a team that won’t win a ton next year, but will be a heckuva fun team to watch and cheer for.

  6. This reminds me of “Superman: The Movie” when a female reporter said to Lois about Superman, “He’s TOO GOOD to be true!”

    This guy is saying all the right things, and even though he hasn’t played a minute of ball in Milwaukee, there’s something to be said for earnest positivity. He doesn’t sound like he’s churning out PR-speak but is genuinely excited and humble. I hope his skills match his sincerity, but for now he may be the best personality to hit the Bucks since Ray Allen.

    I can’t believe this is the team that went 15-67 and suffered through the Larry Sanders Show just a few months ago. Since the sale and the draft, it’s been a much more professional organization. Bucks fans are crawling back out of the wordwork. Kudos to the new owners.