So, the Milwaukee Bucks won the championship. This is more exciting than when the Brewers win. More exciting than the Packers winning. More exciting than when Jordan won six championships or when franchises like the Lakers won gold. And so, here we are, basking in Milwaukee’s championship glory, a rare and historic glory.
Feelings about the Bucks winning the coveted NBA championship are hard to describe, but I know it’s not normal. Feelings on the championship win to a normal NBA fan as opposed to the perspective of a Bucks fan or Bucks reporter with courtside view or Milwaukeean are two different things. Let me say that first. It has been a long, hard-fought road. Everyone can agree on that. It has been and it has not been so fun watching the Milwaukee Bucks these past few years in today’s NBA, but mostly fun. The fact that the Bucks proved they could, with the help of the NBA’s most Greek and Freak star, a monster amongst men, basically, win the championship makes the road traveled all worth it.
The 2021 championship win was the team’s first championship in 50 years. Those are the facts. An achievement made for an organization like the Milwaukee Bucks, and one other franchises couldn’t dream of. Other franchises couldn’t dream of carrying that amount of history. So, ‘The Bucks won the championship’ isn’t the only feeling; the Bucks won their first championship in 50 years is the feeling one should carry. Everyone, Bucks fans and Bucks reporters and Milwaukee natives especially should feel this honor underneath their hardwood bones. The Bucks hadn’t won a championship since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took to the floor with his famous skyhook and “The Big O” Oscar Robertson solidified rare point guard history. That is a long time and perhaps, should take that long for the full effect of the rejuvenation. The reliving, not rejuvenation, of that glory is the best part. The Bucks are reliving history, and that is the best part. They say you can’t rewrite history, but the thoughts of the Bucks doing just that are with them everyday. The idea of repeating is just a few steps away with bright lights beaming on the hardwood floor where their banner hangs.
The idea of repeating looms over the Milwaukee Bucks this season even more than the rewriting of history last season, which is also a season celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NBA. Can they do it? Can they repeat? These are questions yet to be answered, but fans all over the world who watched last season and are watching the Milwaukee Bucks this season can dream. The NBA is in its 75th season, and the Bucks are playing in it. They played in it and won Tuesday night against the opponent they beat to get to the finals, the Brooklyn Nets, which was also ring night and banner unveil ceremony for the Bucks. As they watched their banner be raised and put rings on their fingers and played hard basketball, tears of joy rolled down all those in attendance faces. What a joy and historic reminder it would be if the Bucks win the championship again in the NBA’s 75th year. They certainly deserve it and they have earned every bit of it.
Along with earning the right to repeat, the Bucks have earned the right to do a lot of things and above all, the most precious right to brag. The Bucks have earned bragging rights. The Bucks have earned the right to brag on their team and on having undoubtedly the best player in the league on their team, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has a right to brag on their city, which was called a “bad city” by high-level sports analysts in the middle of their job duties. Milwaukee has a right to brag on winning the championship, and in the middle of such history. What joy it would have been if last season was the 75th Anniversary, but God would have it that the Bucks won it on their own first and repeat season be the historic 75th season. The idea of the Bucks winning and repeating, no matter what or who stands in their way, is the best feeling.
What a feeling. What a celebration. What history.
What the Bucks will have to do moving forward to relive history or keep making history is our topic in this hour now. They will have to believe in Giannis each time he rises up for a dunk or rebound, which resembles Kareem’s skyhook and rebounds. They will especially have to believe him when he’s shooting the ball, a skill he’s been criticized for or told he’d need to work on or that he altogether didn’t have, which he has shown he possesses amongst all of his talents during a pair of 2021 preseason games and in the opener where he scored 32 and grabbed 14 rebounds. Giannis is in his ninth year in the league, and six of those years have been spent as a competitor in the NBA’s highly-competitive playoffs. He has spent all nine years with teammate Khris Middleton, his Scottie Pippen, who was traded to Milwaukee from Detroit the year Giannis was drafted. Obviously, the personal achievements of the Greek Freak, the league’s best anomaly and success story have impacted his teammates. We all know the story about Giannis growing up in Greece and coming to the NBA with next to nothing, but what about Giannis’ basketball achievements, which has placed him at the top of the NBA’s highest mountain where he may never look down. Two of his nine seasons, he has won the incomparable Most Valuable Player award in back to back seasons. This past season, he won Defensive Player of the Year along with MVP, and he is in rare history as one of three folks – Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and himself – to do so. He also, secretly and quietly, won Most Improved Player three years removed from his rookie season, which was a rookie-looking season when he was a skinny kid from Greece. That makes him the first player in history to have won all three awards. The Bucks have earned the right to brag on Giannis, and they will need him for the next five years or so or whatever his contract extension states, which is one of the largest contracts in NBA history. That is basically what the Bucks championship and this Bucks story is about also. It’s about bragging on Giannis, and his teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.
But back to my feelings. I can recall a time when I was watching the end of Game 6 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals and bursting into tears as the home team Bucks lost to the Raptors. I burst into tears at the sound of the buzzer just as you would imagine a fan does when their team loses, but worst. I was upset by the “almost winning” and the “should’ve won” aspect of that series. The Raptors were good and they had Kawhi Leonard for a rare season, but I felt it wasn’t rarer than Giannis and the Bucks winning a championship. I mean, it’s been 50 years. The Bucks have more history and more talent. A season after that, they lost to the Miami Heat in 5 games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and that’s an understatement. They were nearly swept. The NBA career of Giannis hasn’t always been glitz and glamour. Everyone’s heart stopped when their main star fell down with an ankle injury in the middle of the series in Game 3. We knew it was over then, and if not, that Miami had the better advantage. A feeling of sadness overcame me, but it was also anger. Every Bucks fan wanted vengeance after this. I couldn’t stomach logging onto Twitter and seeing “Heat Culture” tweets for a few days. The Miami Heat’s growing and old fanbase living in the glory days of their LeBron-Wade-Bosh Big 3 didn’t understand that the Bucks needed to win. These were the only two times in the past few seasons where they made it close enough to actually win it all. The other few times they made it to the playoffs, but lost in the first round, which brings me to my next point.
I can recall another time. I remember sitting at home as a kid watching Bucks games when they were in their purple, and wishing that they’d win. This watching-and-wishing game continued even after Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, “Big Dog” Glenn Robinson, and George Carl, who gave us the most hope. So, they had begun to wear red and Michael Redd was the star. The Bucks went through a string of wannabe-glory years, but still, the banner that hung in the rafters was the championship banner from 1971. Back to my story. I remember the days of Allen, Cassell, and Robinson, and like all dynasties or pending dynasties, the Bucks fought hard to win. They came close to beating out Allen Iverson and the better Philadelphia 76ers, but they fell short. I remember watching the losing days of the Bucks when Redd tried to revive them with his left-handed layups and Desmond Mason’s fancy dunks, but it wasn’t enough. I remember the days of Brandon Jennings vividly because I liked Jennings, the 19 year old kid from Compton who skipped college to go play pro basketball in Italy. The league was in a new era, the 2010’s, and I had hope. I remember seeing his 55-point performance, and thinking, “This is the moment.” I remember thinking that this left-handed scoring point guard who more than anything else, reminded me of Iverson, was going to be the future of the Bucks and the NBA. He was the future and gave us hope for a while, but the Bucks as an organization and team with Jennings couldn’t make it to the big dance. Jennings, nicknamed “BJ,” left Milwaukee and the league, then returned, and that was it. All hope was lost for Milwaukee bringing in a star and hopefully winning games. This was the motto for a while – “bring in a star and hopefully win games,” which the Bucks really tried and struggled with when they did the Jabari Parker experiment, and that failed experiment wasn’t Parker’s fault, but a torn ACL still couldn’t help Milwaukee and so they let the prospect from Simeon and No. 2 draft pick out of Duke go. Fast forward to today, and that’s all I ever wanted was to fast forward.
Here we are now, in the era of a Greek god, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is helping build ancient history. The Bucks have a star, multiple stars, which forms the league’s highest level of a Big 3, and they are winning. So, the Milwaukee Bucks have won the championship and they have earned the right to brag, to repeat, and to keep winning. I can’t help but think that this is for all of the years of hard work, of failed coaches and players. This one is for Milwaukee. This one is for Bucks fans. This one is for basketball fans who appreciate and admire hard-earned winning over criticism. This one is for critics who analyze basketball and find expertise in the glory of the NBA, especially Bucks broadcaster Jim Paschke. This one is for Bucks legends, like Sidney Moncrief and Marques Johnson. This one is for the history books and the league today.