JS: Fan group campaigns for better Bucks team
Who said old media is dead? Just a week ago, SaveOurBucks.com unveiled its "Winning Takes Balls" billboard over I-43 and McKinley, and since then it's gathered quite a bit of notice nationally, with Deadspin and the Sporting News being added to a list that already included Bill Simmons, Kelly Dwyer, Darren Rovell (as insufferable as he might be) and others.
But in many ways this week's article by Don Walker in the Journal-Sentinel is more important than any of those. Walker's piece shines a bit more light on the underlying frustrations with Bucks ownership and even includes a predictably neutral-sounding response from Bucks VP John Steinmiller, which marks the first time I can recall seeing a Bucks' executive commenting directly on Save Our Bucks. Much of the national coverage has missed the point a bit, focusing exclusively on the idea of Bucks fans wanting their team to tank for a high draft pick. Obviously the theme of the billboard is more or less asking for that kind of reductionist thinking, but that's the compromise that comes with trying to summarize a much broader set of ideas into something you see for six seconds while driving along in your car. It was funny seeing the piece show up on the cover of the "Local" section rather than the "Sports" section, but the politics of how the JS covers this topic are probably best left for another day. For now let's just say that it's encouraging that the piece ran at all.
Otherwise, Walker seems overly fixated on the idea of a "mystery man" behind the site, though the reality is that most of the fundamental ideas behind SOB are anything but radical. It's no secret that a lone fifty win season in two decades and a number of painfully short-sighted moves over the past five years have turned off many long-time fans, which makes the Bucks' dipping attendance and increasing irrelevance on the Wisconsin sports scene both unfortunate and unsurprising.
So what does this all mean, and does it all matter? As a starting point I recommend you check out Jeremy Schmidt's piece over at Bucksketball about his view of Save Our Bucks, which raises some good points about the challenges of crowd-sourced activism like SOB and the bizarre nature of Bucks fandom these days in general (are we still allowed to be happy when the young Bucks win a game? Does everything on Bucks.com have to be considered a conspiracy to disavow SOB?). In that regard I think Paul Henning's role as the spokesperson for SOB has been critical in terms of giving the movement both a human face and maintaining a relatively positive tone as it begins to draw increasing amounts of attention. A bunch of anonymous fans calling the organization morons doesn't generate a broader media discussion, but a well thought-through website promoting discussion over various media platforms...well, that's much harder to ignore.
All of which gets us to an important (and obvious) takeaway: at this point we should be beyond debating whether Save Our Bucks "matters." And honestly that's a good thing for everyone who cares about the Bucks. We can debate the finer points of the message, but there's been too much media coverage locally and nationally to say the opinions of SOB in particular or Bucks fans in general don't matter. Just as importantly, there are indications the organization is moving more in line with the youth-oriented movement that everyone wants to see anyway. It may have taken longer than we had hoped and we're not out of the woods yet (the trade deadline is February 20, BTW), but the fact that we might see a Brandon Knight/Giannis Antetokounmpo/Khris Middleton/John Henson/Larry Sanders lineup on Friday night says a whole lot about how far we've come in the past two months. We're still a long way from a shiny new lotto pick injecting life into the franchise, new ownership coming on board and an arena being built, but baby steps are better than no steps.
And while it's not to say Larry Drew is taking his lineup cues from message boards or John Hammond is basing trade proposals on blog suggestions, it's also silly to think that the Bucks operate in a vacuum. The people selling tickets face the challenge of public sentiment everyday, and it's not as if the upper echelons of the organization are oblivious to what's being said all over the internet and, perhaps more importantly, by their season-ticket holders. Maybe Herb Kohl has been, but after a 6-22 start you'd hope that reality would kick in. Ultimately the Bucks sell a product, and that product has customers, and those customers can't be ignored forever. It's not a coincidence that the Bucks' Facebook feed has become all Giannis, all the time.
For instance: my dad's a 20-year season ticket-holder who spends thousands of dollars every year to watch the Bucks. He can't tell the Bucks how to run their organization, but they're obligated to listen when the people paying the bills have strong opinions about things. And while he may only be vaguely familiar with Save Our Bucks specifically, he's already written his ticket rep a couple emails this year pushing for the organization to cast aside concerns over short-term wins and focus on developing its young players. At a minimum it makes for a more entertaining product now, at best it willl lead to big things in the future.
Individually gestures like that may not matter. But when everyone is repeating them, it's different. And that seems to be where we are right now. It's not an end to itself, but it might just be the start of much better things.
ESPN | Chat with Chad Ford - SportsNation
How good has Giannis Antetokounmpo been? This good:
Aaron (Seattle) I know its early, but how do you re-draft 1-3 in the 2013 class right now?
Chad Ford (1:28 PM) 1. Antetokounmpo2. Oladipo3. Carter-Williams
I was initially surprised to see Ford list Giannis ahead of Carter-Williams, if only because Philly's star point guard is arguably already playing at close to an all-star level. But while Giannis obviously isn't the sort of offensive focal point Carter-Williams is in Philly, he's also nearly three years younger than MCW and we've yet to find an Achilles heel to the Greek's game (yet).
In short, MCW's vision, defense, and knack for getting in the paint clearly make for a more fully-realized skillset than what Giannis brings to the table at the moment, but Philly's presumptive rookie of the year has always faced serious questions as a shooter and scorer, and his performance so far hasn't proven the skeptics wrong so far. Even if he hasn't put it all together yet, Giannis has all the physical tools you dream of in a versatile point forward, and so far we haven't discovered any reason why he can't be special.
BBallBreakdown | Some Interesting Stats As NBA Season Hits 2 Month Mark
Remember last year when we were wondering if/when John Henson might start to flash the sort of defensive impact that earned him a pair of ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors? Apparently the answer is now.
This player holds his opponents to a 42.9% of field goal makes at the rim (Roy Hibbert holds them to 42.1%), has more blocks than Dwight Howard(52) or Andre Drummond (44) with 55, and he intimidates his opponents into taking less shots at the rim (3.1) than Tim Duncan, Serge Ibaka, and Deandre Jordan. And to top it all off, he’s only in his sophomore season! Congratulations, if you guessed Anthony Davis, then you can join this writer in completely overlooking former Tar Heel and Bucks front court member John Henson!