Saturday was a momentous day for the Milwaukee Bucks in a number of ways.
Yes, they unveiled their new uniforms, an event they’d been building up to for months. But the events surrounding that reveal moment were gave us a perhaps more important look at the team’s overall progress in its rebranding and revitalization efforts as the debate surrounding a new arena and public funding efforts rages on.
The block party unfolded in Schlitz Park, under the watchful eye of the team’s new offices in one of Milwaukee’s trendier business parks. I walked up with party well underway, a number of local musicians performing on a primary stage, a circle of food trucks, and various county fair-esque booths available (including the inflatable pop-a-shot setup and a dunk tank with a rotating cast of Bucks-employed victims).
The first thing that struck me was the number of fans in attendance. The official estimate was around 10,000; I can’t verify that, but it sure seemed like there were a lot:
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 6, 2015
…and they certainly made themselves heard, especially during the build-up to the reveal. Most people congregated around the stage to hear interviews between Jim Paschke, Ted Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jabari Parker. We learned that Giannis will continue to work hard on his jump shot over the summer and that Jabari is going to be visiting Peru because he’s a huge Star Wars fan (?). John Henson also got recognized in the crowd and pulled on stage for a few minutes. Then, because it is 2015, Giannis and Jabari wanted to get a selfie with the crowd. And they did:
An incredible day at the Bucks Summer Block Party. Fantastic Bucks crowd. My favorite selfie ever, taken by Giannis. pic.twitter.com/B4ffJINiS0
— Jim Paschke (@Paschketball) June 6, 2015
Finally, at the big moment, team president Peter Feigin stood at the top of the building directly behind the stage and made the whole thing official, presiding over the dropping of a 14-story tall banner featuring the team’s two young stars and both road and home uniforms. Confetti dropped. “The Bucks Don’t Stop Here” played. People were very excited:
— Mitch Vomhof (@mitchvomhof) June 6, 2015
There was much celebration.
Following the reveal, the curtains were pulled on a number of mannequins around the park featuring the two newly revealed jerseys, which immediately became the most popular exhibit at the block party.
Throughout the day, the world (Milwaukee?)-famous Rim Rockers showed off on a court set up off to the side of the main stage. The demonstrations were offset by appearances by Giannis and Jabari playing games of HORSE and lightning with young fans and signing autographs throughout the day. This, too, was very popular.
The team also had an exhibit featuring the history of Bucks uniforms through the years, which seemed like a nice nod toward the past even as they try to shed the years of disappointment. This, too, seemed popular throughout the day:
A few other walking-around notes:
- The team was also offering tours of its new offices throughout the day, which seemed like a pretty neat way to give fans an exclusive look into the day-to-day business while also showing off their new digs.
- The variety of jerseys and featured players milling around was delightful. Highlights included several Michael Redd jerseys, an actual Vin Baker jersey (not on the man himself), not one, but TWO T.J. Ford jerseys (which is more than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time), and one purple-and-green #35 “Leonard” jersey, which I can only guess was custom-made for someone because I cannot identify any player with that last name that would have played for the Bucks in the 90’s. If you have any idea, please let me know!
- Bango, Feigin, Paschke, and Davis all took their turns in the dunk tank – at one point, Jason Kidd stepped up and seemed very determined to dunk his team’s president. No word on whether that will have any impact on relationships within the front office going forward.
- The pop-up pro shops featuring new logo merchandise, and shirtseys of the new uniform design seemed popular throughout the day, so you can expect to see a lot of Parker #12 t-shirts around Milwaukee in the upcoming months.
- As I walked down to the park from my apartment, I was pleasantly surprised to have several people recognize the Bucks shirt I was wearing, stop, and ask what time the uniform reveal was. It was kind of refreshing to see people outside of a Bucks-specific setting show awareness and interested in a basketball-related event in Milwaukee for a change.
- Damien Inglis made an appearance as well, sans walking boot. He could be seen walking around, signing autographs, and putting up a couple of shots in between Rim Rockers performances. He seemed to be moving around well enough and in good spirits, and word on the street is that he’ll be a full participant in this year’s Summer League.
- Speaking of Summer League, Giannis confirmed that he would be in Las Vegas this summer, but it’s unclear if he will be there as a participant or just to support the team.
- Food trucks are always a good choice. They’re becoming more popular at this kind of event, but I still feel that more outdoor festivals should designate a food truck district. Maybe this grand entertainment district that the team is planning surrounding a new arena can have some designated food truck space. That would be cool.
While it was obviously going to be a pro-Bucks gathering, it was refreshing to hear people talking excitedly about the team’s future, draft picks, and the potential ceilings for its two young cornerstones. While it’s tough for anyone to positively frame a bottoming out and rebuild, the team has done a good job of drawing people out and keeping them engaged during the offseason, especially at a critical time in their efforts to secure funding for a new arena. While there’s still a long ways to go on all fronts, a day like Saturday could convince you that everything’s going to turn out just fine.