It's that time of the year again, everyone! The American people are again thankful for the day off, and the parade is already in full swing (though Sam Dalembert seems to be providing a less than spirited Grand Marshal performance again this year). It's Buxers Day, the day where Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers fans gather a few times a year to celebrate their storied past while looking ahead to their intertwined futures.
The teams have met twice already this season and have split the Buxers Day Series. Since this third match up of the series comes at a very important juncture for both teams, we figured now is as good a time as any to offer a brief history lesson. Some of you may remember the early moments of Buxers Day, but by now your memory may be a little foggy. Also, some of you may not be old enough to have any Buxers Day memories of your own. All you have to go on is a few choppy stories from your parents and honestly, parents are weird and sometimes untrustworthy and also eat egg salad sandwiches by choice. If you'd like, feel free to print this article out and post it in your family scrapbook or wherever you keep super important traditional documents, because now you will have a proper history of this holiday.
Let us begin by shouting the ceremonious first words of Buxers Day and get this underway! "Drink!"
The History of Buxers Day:
The story of how this holiday came to be was lost on me, so I called up Buxers Day historian Jack Maloney for a little more info to go with mine. We settled on this (very, very real) story:
Joshua Harris, the current owner of the Sixers, had been a huge fan of Herb Kohl (Bucks owner) since his college days at Penn. Heading up the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity at Penn, Harris had always been a huge fan of Kohl's tenure in the same position at UW-Madison many years before that. Harris admired how Kohl managed to keep his fraternity good enough to stick around, but not bad enough to be transferred to another chapter outside of the state. Harris spent his college weekends researching Kohl and reading transcripts of interviews Kohl had given while heading the fraternity. Harris was his biggest fan. Until 2001.
That year the Sixers bested the Bucks in a seven-game series, and many folks on Milwaukee's end questioned why one of their own, Scott Williams, wasn't allowed to play in the seventh and deciding game. Though he never came out and said it, Harris just knew that Kohl was behind some of those cries, and it eviscerated him. That night, Harris vowed to himself, would be the last night of his fandom of Kohl and the first night of his journey to meet Kohl at the professional level and wipe the floor with him, with his own team.
Ten years later, in October of 2011, Harris was given that chance, as he was part of an ownership group that purchased the Sixers from Comcast Spectacor. Seeing red, Harris immediately began constructing an impressive average-to-above-average roster, one that would not only compete with Milwaukee over the next few years, but one that would get the attention of his longtime idol Kohl.
Over the next few seasons, the rivalry intensified, with both teams standing strong in the 8-10 seed range in the Eastern Conference. This heated battle got the attention of both team's fans, who started to state their allegiances more publicly, even if it meant certain ridicule from other fan bases. This rivalry was that important. As of the end of the 2012-2013 season, the public rivalry had become so popular that the two state's governments had to shut down all action on days when the two teams would play.
The game changed in the summer of 2013 though, when Harris brought in General Sam Hinkie to throw a wrinkle into this rivalry. General Hinkie commanded that his troops either leave headquarters or hop inside the provided tanks, where his team would feel no harm from their present journey while preserving themselves for the future. (There were a few that didn't initially leave, but Hinkie took care of them just recently, preserving those in the tank). Kohl, baffled by such an act, had no other choice but to follow suit; but he could not come out and do it publicly. He had to do it stealthfully, and boy did he ever succeed.
Now, the two teams are locked into another battle, just in the lower echelon of NBA franchises. The rivalry is just as heated though, as a few new prized amateurs are waiting to be brought into the fold by both teams. Outsiders don't understand why Buxers Day is important, and they never will. If you are inside it though, a) enjoy the day off! b) may the odds be ever in your favor and c) may God help your soul.
Buxers Day Traditions:
We aren't totally privy to the Buxers Day customs in Philly, but our pals over at Liberty Ballers will have that covered sometime today. Milwaukee has a couple that are followed pretty regularly. Some are old, some are new, but they are all a blast.
- Bobbing for lottery balls: The newest Buxers Day tradition takes place at Veterans Park alongside Milwaukee's lakefront. Contestants can line up before the game (usually the afternoon of gameday) and bob while blindfolded for their chance to pick the Bucks ball out of the bucket of water! It's a real hoot; sometimes they pick the wrong team's ball and other times they get an apple! There's no tellin' what might happen!
- Long two dunk tank (sponsored by Burger King): A lucky citizen gets selected each Buxers Day to sit high up on a platform inside a cage that is connected to a basket outside of said cage. If a fan thinks they can make a long two, a staple of Buxers games, they can step right up and try and sink the fan. I was lucky enough to be the guy getting dunked last Buxers Day celebration, and boy did I sure get my share of trips into the frigid water. These folks are good at their long twos!
- Drinking. Lots of drinking (for those age appropriate, of course).
We obviously aren't aware of every tradition out there that is being held firm by the families who observe Buxers Day, so we encourage you to leave your favorite tradition in the comments below. Maybe you have one like this guy:
@ericbuenning my grandma's homemade Buxerberry pie— Andrew Aronson (@el_suavacado) February 24, 2014
I'm sure there are more. As usual, we wish you and happy and safe Buxers Day. Enjoy the festivities!!