Instead of dropping all of the media day reactions into one very lengthy post, we are going to break it up into five parts spread out over the next 24 hours. Part 1 will cover Herb Kohl's comments, part 2 will be on John Hammond and Larry Drew's comments, and parts 3,4, and 5 will focus on the guards, wings and bigs, respectively.
Today was supposed to be a day where the media got to meet the Bucks' 11 (!) new players and test out some new narratives (The promise of youth! Caron Butler comes home! Guys who are not Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings!) to carry us through camp and into the season. There was plenty of that of course, but in many ways the show was stolen early when team owner Herb Kohl walked up to the mic and began to field questions.
Much has of course been made of Kohl's ''mandate'' to win now while ignoring the possibility of tanking (a word which he pretty much refuses to use), especially following a summer that saw the Bucks acquire a slew of players that make the roster good enough to not be awful, but not good enough to push the needle forward dramatically. Some would argue that Kohl's stance is and will be a hindrance to a brighter future for the Bucks, a sentiment that has only gotten stronger after 9th, 9th and 8th finishes in the East over the past three seasons. Kohl addressed that, with a few minor tweaks.
"I feel good about ["the stance"]. I don't think we should see ourselves as a team that is going through a transition in which we can't be good."
"We're not a team that we need to look at without enthusiasm, without expectations, without goals."
"This is a team that we've set high expectations for, that we set high standards for, high goals."
So while it may sound like the same old schtick, the semantics are definitely different. Kohl fired off buzzwords like ''compete" and "expecting to win" when talking about some of the expectations he and the team had, which are in fact congruent with the tired ''win now" meme surrounding the franchise. However, Kohl never once mentioned that the goal of this team was to get to the playoffs or anything specific of that nature. Instead, Kohl acknowledged that the expectations were relatively low in this team. But with guys coming in every day with the mindset of competing for the full 48 minutes and working as a unit instead of individuals with their own agendas, Kohl believes they can end up being both pleasing to the fans and actually relatively successful.
Of course, one reason why the Bucks don't believe they have the luxury of tanking like other teams do is because they have an arena problem that weighs heavily on the future of the franchise. The current lease is up in 2017, so a discussion and plan for a new arena is forthcoming whether those in charge like it or not. Kohl is no dummy; he very much realizes that in order to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee they will need a new facility. In order to get a new facility though, the product--and just as importantly its perception--needs to improve. There's only so much you can do at a time though, so Kohl doesn't seem like he's ready to place the burden of building a new arena on the basketball operations side of things.
The road ahead of the franchise is long, but the paths at least won't be harmfully intersecting. Kohl stressed that the moves the front office executed this summer were not done in the shadows of a new arena deal. They are two completely separate operations, both of which Kohl seems to be fairly confident in.
"We did the best job we could in putting together the best team we could. We think it's going to be a good team and an entertaining team."
Who knows if Kohl's forecast is going to be accurate; it's nearly impossible to judge that at the moment, though on the day before camp optimism is usually in strong supply. As the Bucks head into that murky future though, it will be nice to have some conviction along the way. Say what you will about Kohl's stubborn approach to comprising a roster, but that confidence will hopefully go a long way to keeping the Bucks around for a long, long time.
"It's going to happen. We're getting a facility. I am confident that we'll get a facility."