BY NATASHA GEIGER
As another NBA season starts, almost like it never ended, we hear about the usual teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. However, Wisconsin’s own Milwaukee Bucks are worth looking at this year.
The Bucks have had a lengthy and successful franchise history, especially after their first NBA Championship in 1971, just three years after becoming an expansion team, earning the Bucks the distinction of the quickest-rising team in North American professional leagues.
Many Wis. sports fans have a love/hate relationship with the Milwaukee Bucks. It is a well-known fact that they have not been all that good recently. The seasons between 2003 and 2011 were plagued by injuries and poor draft picks, and things were simply not looking up for the Bucks—until last season.
After years of below average performance and players, the Bucks needed a fresh start, and that’s exactly what they got. On April 16, 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks entered a new era. Two hedge fund managers, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, purchased the Milwaukee Bucks from Herb Kohl. Soon after, they brought in a young and talented head coach, Jason Kidd.
With the help of many young players, the 2014-15 Bucks ended the season with a record of 41-41, surpassing expectations with a very young group of core players. But they are not just young; they are young and talented. With players like Jabari Parker, Giannis Antekounmpo and Greg Monroe, the team will be able to surge forward into the season.
It is not only the players that are surging forward. The Milwaukee Bucks organization as a whole has been on the rise. Since the Bucks were purchased from Kohl, the value of the franchise has increased from $405 million to $600 million. The total home game attendance has also gone up. In the 2013-14 season it was 552,967; for the 2014-15 season, it increased to 611,226.
The young energy of the Milwaukee Bucks has expanded beyond the court and into towns across Wis. As the Bucks work to redefine themselves as an NBA team, they also look to build a brand new state-of-the-art, multiuse, $500-million facility in which the Bucks can create a new name for themselves.
The youth of this team is a double-edged sword in many ways. Last season, they landed in the middle at 41-41 and made a decent run in the playoffs, stealing two games away from the perennial Eastern Conference power, Chicago Bulls. But having a young team requires more time, effort and training to produce the skill level of the Spurs or Cavaliers.
While it may seem hard to realize now, a young team and young front office is exactly what the Bucks needed. The numbers tell the story: the value of the franchise has increased along with home game attendance. The owners, coaches and players have brought new life to the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the release of their new logo, team colors and plans for a new arena, the people of the Bucks organization are finally putting the team back on the map as a contending team not only in popularity but also in play. They are making a sudden surge towards the top of the NBA—just like in 1971.
This Bucks team is nothing short of a talented basketball team. While no one has predicted the Bucks to win the Finals this year, they will continue to work and play hard as a young and exciting team. With young owners and the community of Milwaukee behind them, the Milwaukee Bucks plan to return to prominence in the NBA.