It’s been a busy week for Jim. He’s been courted by four of the five teams on his short list, and from the brief discussions I’ve had with him, each team has made a distinct impression. There’s only one team remaining before Jim has to make his final decision – the Milwaukee Bucks.
To present their case to Jim, I had to do a bit of digging around to find the right Bucks fan. When I did, he insisted that he remained anonymous upon stating his case. His exact words – “the team is more important than the individual… Jim doesn’t need to know who I am or what my name is”. Fair enough.
So sit back Jim and get ready to hear from the Bucks. You’ve only got two days to make up your mind. No pressure.
Jim, I find it amusing that every team who’s pitched to you so far has centered their argument around one thing: the promise of what could be. I’m hearing the Knicks talk about how Amare could signal a new era and erase a decade’s worth of bad memories for basketball loving New Yorkers. I’m hearing the Heat talk about false promises of a dynasty before their team has even played a single game together. I’m hearing the Bulls talk about being contenders, when they weren’t even close last year, and again, before their new-look team has even played a single game together. And I’m hearing the Sixers talk about… well, I’m not really sure what their angle is but it ain’t impressing me.
Point is, you can’t base your decision on what could be.
In all likelihood the Knicks will find a way to remain mediocre and Amare will prove what we already knew about him – that he’s a me-first guy that won’t make the necessary sacrifices/improvements to win.
There’s a very good chance the Heat’s new big trio of Wade, Lebron and Bosh won’t find it easy to coexist. NBA history is littered with examples of teams gathering two or three of the league’s best players, only to fall short of expectations. There are some exceptions to that – Kareem/Magic and Shaq/Kobe come to mind – but they both had two of the most dominant centers to ever play the game. Something glaringly absent from the Heat roster.
The Bulls have no idea how Boozer will really fit into this team. He looked good in Utah thanks to Jerry Sloan’s system and the pick’n’roll with Deron Williams. Can he slot into the Bulls system just as easily? Does Boozer really need to be the focal point of the offense anyway considering how good Rose should/could be?
There are a lot of big “ifs” there, for all teams. And a lot of reasons why you, a prospective fan, should think twice before jumping into the unknown.
The Milwaukee Bucks on the other hand Jim, are a much surer bet. I’m not going to talk in hypotheticals here. Last season we finished 6th in the East, and would have very likely been 5th if not for Bogut’s horrific injury in early April. Without Bogut we lost in 7 games to Atlanta in the first round, a result that most agreed would have been different if Bogut was in the side.
Bogut finished as the season’s second best center. It wasn’t even close. He proved he was a defensive beast and an offensive threat. Quite simply, he justified himself as the #1 pick in the 2005 Draft.
Brandon Jennings had one of the best rookie debuts in recent years. It started off historically after he dropped 55 points in a game, and after that it was always going to level off. He still ended up as a unanimous selection to the All-Rookie First Team though. While the Bulls will talk up Rose being one of the most talented young guards in the league, don’t forget about Brandon Jennings. We won’t talk him up as much, that’s just in our nature, but I’m telling you, he will be a star one day.
We have one of the best coaches in the game in Scott Skiles. Just look what he did with the team last year. We were given NO shot to make the playoffs last season, a rookie at the point guard position (always challenging for a coach), injuries to our “best player” in Michael Redd, and a supporting cast that most people gave little chance of clicking. What Skiles did was remarkable, because by the end of the season the Bucks had arguable the best chemistry of any team in the league. We became the ultimate “sum of our parts” team, without any identifiable superstar. Thanks to Skiles disciplined style (which has been well documented over the years), the Bucks are a hard-working, no-nonsense team, that plays together. Don’t underestimate this when making your decision Jim.
I want to take a little time to explain our supporting cast, because I’m tipping they might be relatively unknown to you. John Salmons became our leading scorer last season after a mid-year trade (from the Bulls). He is a tough, underrated scorer with a solid three-point stroke. His impact on Chicago was noticeable last season – they struggled to fill the scoring hole he left.
Ersan Ilyasova is a young versatile power forward with huge potential. He’ll share the spot with newly acquired Buck Drew Gooden who you can guarantee will give 100% every game. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (apart from having a cool name) is also a tough, young forward who will become one of the elite defenders in the league (if he isn’t already). Carlos Delfino stepped up big time for us last year and will provide backup at the wings, along with new Buck Corey Maggette. We certainly pack more of a scoring punch than we did last year, and we are already one of the best defensive teams in the league. Fact.
Then there’s the Aussie-Bogut connection. Despite the Bogey Man being our country’s biggest basketball icon, there is surprisingly little support for the Bucks. Sure lots of Aussies will follow the Bucks from a distance, but there’s isn’t a huge amount of true-blue Bucks fans. If you choose Milwaukee Jim, you’re being the best possible Aussie NBA fan you can be. Picking a team with ties to home – something no other team in the NBA can really boast right now (at least not until Patty Mills becomes a star).
I’ve already touched on Milwaukee’s team and coach having a no-frills, hard-working mindset. There is something extremely gratifying about supporting a blue-collar team like this – the absence of glitz and glamour and celebrities sitting courtside is a welcomed sight to me. If you value that kind of thing too, then Milwaukee is definitely the pick of your bunch. You’ve probably heard the great story of Squad 6, a rowdy bunch of Milwaukee fans who scream and chant all game, their tickets paid for by Bogut himself. At every Milwaukee game, and on the road, you are guaranteed to get true Bucks fans supporting their team. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for a lot of the upper echelon teams in the league.
Then there’s the question of winning. I’m not sure how highly you value winning a championship in your selection – the fact the Bucks, Sixers, Bulls and Knicks are amongst your top 5 suggests it isn’t the be all and end all. I would argue that the Bucks have a better chance of winning a championship before any of those teams. We have the critical ingredients – a star center and point guard – and we have far greater depth and youth. The reason you won’t hear about Milwaukee’s championship chances is simply because we aren’t a sexy team. Proof of that is that everyone suddenly thinks Chicago will be amongst the contenders in 2010-2011, despite their team being far worse than ours last season, and that they are essentially unproven with their new line up. Mark my words Jim, Milwaukee will be better than Chicago this season. It’s just that no one wants to predict it – it doesn’t make for much of a story.
Jim, I’ve tried to be perfectly honest with you about this team and why I think you should choose them. There’s a lot of other great reasons why you should get behind the Bucks and the city of Milwaukee. I can’t go through them all here. Just know this – for an Aussie just starting to get back into the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks makes so much sense as the team to choose. You wouldn’t have to feel bad about any allegiance you once felt (or still feel) to the Bulls, because choosing Milwaukee isn’t a vain choice, it isn’t an admission that you’re “selling out” (which for what it’s worth, would be the case if you chose Miami or New York).
Choosing the Bucks is a smart choice, a choice that every single Aussie NBA fan you meet will respect. And that can’t be said about any of the other teams on your list.
Look forward to hearing back from you Jim. Now crack open one of Milwaukee’s finest brews and get to making your decision.
– The Milwaukee Bucks