No Pepper Games: How To Save the Bucks
Post by Cincinnatus Van... on 5/7/2012 2:00pm
To everything there is a season, and this season is given over to the NBA playoffs. Once again, the NBA playoffs are proceeding without the.
Forgive the awkward intro. The AP Style Guide strictly forbids any use of "NBA Playoffs" and.
"Milwaukee Bucks" in the same sentence.
The Bucks did not have an awful year. They finished two games under .500 and just missed the privilege of being annihilated by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
This is about where they finished last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
This is where they will finish next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
An unbroken horizon of flat, uninspiring .500 finishes as far as the eye can see.
This will not do. We are in the midst of a sporting renaissance here in Wisconsin. Our football Badgers were briefly in the national title hunt. Our Brewers knocked on the gates of glory. As for our Packers, perfection flitted briefly before our eyes like the Holy Grail, only to dissipate like a mirage and become the stuff of legend.
It has been a year when the victories have been more thrilling, and the defeats more agonizing; when the taste of glory has turned to ashes in our mouths.
This is why we become sports fans. Oh, to let out a full-throated yell! To slap a stranger on the back! To feel the pulse race! In a world of cool, cynical, and ironic - to take the heart out for a spin and give a damn that it's first down, that the line drive stayed fair... To put aside the posing and our tweeting and, for one moment - care! Life is painted in more vivid colors when we care. The beer seems colder, the women curvier, the steel guitars twangier, and we feel alive.
We Wisconsinites carry this over into our politics. This is the state that brought you Bob La Follette and Joe McCarthy. Russ Feingold and Scott Walker. There's a primary election tomorrow. Go vote in it. There are no boring half-measures here.
The exception to this political excitement is the retiring Senator Herb Kohl, the brightest beacon of boring who ever filled a grey suit. Remember that exciting Herb Kohl speech? No one else does, either.
The intensely dull Senator Kohl, by the way, happens to be the owner of the aggressively average Bucks. He held a press conference last week to suggest that he's ready to kick in some of his substantial cash to build a new arena. We respectfully suggest that he turn some of that attention to the product on the floor and inject some life into a franchise that last contended in the days of Lew Alcindor.
A new arena can only do so much. Brooklyn will find that out next year when they discover that their sparkly new arena is peopled with the sad remains of the New Jersey Nets. Cool new uniforms, same lousy defense.
What the Bucks need is a superstar. Basketball, like jazz, is entirely dependent on the improvisational skills of its marquee players. There are only two ways to acquire a superstar: free agency and the draft.
We must be realistic here. Free agency is not our option. While the name meel-LAY-wah-keh is Algonquin for "the good land," the town is hardly a magnet for the high-living, paparazzi-courting twentysomething gazillionaire athletes we need. New York and LA have the bright lights and the supermodels. We have a statue of The Fonz.
The Bucks must draft, and draft well, to escape the tar pits of mediocrity.
Herein lies the rub. In any NBA draft, there are only one or two true stars. These are inevitably snapped up by the teams with the first picks. The teams with the first picks are the teams with the worst records.
The fair-to-middling teams get shunted to the middle of the draft where they pick up fair-to-middling players. Mediocrity begets mediocrity. This is the ineluctable quagmire of the average. For time immemorial. Et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum.
What is to be done, Senator? Must we endure this mediocrity to the end of time? No one wants to see boring, average, fair-to-middlin' basketball, Senator. Even God, writing in Revelation tells us "because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Chapter 3, verse 16. The Milwaukee Bucks are the basketball equivalent of Godspittle.
Senator, you will be out of public office soon. You have all the wealth a man could dream of. May I make a modest proposal to ensure your legacy and the future of the Milwaukee Bucks?
Let us face facts. There is no way to climb out of this mediocrity without draft picks. There is no way to get draft picks without losing.
Then, Senator, let us lose.
This is where the purists purse their pusillanimous lips and make their David Stern faces and natter on about "competitive integrity".
Defy them! Let us stink up the joint. Let us go into the tank. Not just point-shaving. Shave-and-a-haircut-two-bitsing. Bring in the Washington Generals. Exhume Eddie Gaedel. Fill the bench with Asian kids from Harvard. They can't all be Jeremy Lin. Bring me in at point guard. I'll make enough turnovers to be sponsored by Pillsbury (the dough boy and I even have the same physique).
Senator Kohl, I respectfully suggest sucking.
I am not a fan of the verb "to suck." In my youth, it was not a word one ever would have seen in a family paper. It bespoke the unspeakable. Oscar Wilde and Gomorrah and such. Along with the F-word, the D-word, the other S-word, the A-word, the two C-words, and the J-word, it held such taboo that even typing it recalls the taste of lye soap to my mouth.
I have been assured by those less prudish than I that the word "suck" is no longer considered obscene. Even the Sunday papers used "Suck for Luck" to describe the Indianapolis Colts' hardscrabble season. We must get past our prudery and recognize facts. As is the case with a rattlesnake bite, sucking is precisely what this situation calls for.
Sucking is in such fashion this year that even the great Michael Jordan is doing it. Famously competitive and fiercely driven, Jordan's '96 Bulls once set the record for most wins in an NBA season. He's now the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. How bad were the Charlotte Bobcats this year? Titanically bad. Hindenburgically bad. They set the record for fewest games won in a season. The man with six rings only won seven games this year. One of those seven paltry wins came against the mediocre Bucks.
Be like Mike, Senator. Michael Jordan knows the highest highs and the lowest lows. He is a rollercoaster. You are the Indiana turnpike.
The wonderful thing about sucking is, if you pick a loser in the draft, you can repeat the process again next year. It's a lot easier to repeat a last-place finish than a first-place finish.
Take this franchise to the bottom, so that it may rise to the top again.
We're begging you on our knees. Bring some excitement back into our basketball lives.