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A Magical Return to the Mecca

How Milwaukee’s throwback perfectly captured the retro vibe they hoped for

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Brew Hoop’s Gabe Stoltz was in the building covering last night’s MECCA game between Milwaukee and Boston. Because it was a special event, Gabe saw fit to focus less on the contest and more on the atmosphere. These are his observations, and be sure to come back for Greg Licht’s View From the Nosebleeds this afternoon!

I swear, you could see the energy in the building. Bucks fans of all age were docking gear from all eras, but there was definitely an uptick of old retro gear. I made sure to get out of the concourse when tipoff came because I knew the concourses would be packed in like a can of sardines.

It was fun to see other media freaking out of not knowing where to go. I sort of had to serve as a makeshift ambassador (being the Sports Editor at The UWM Post, I’ve had my fair share of events at the UWM Panther Arena).

I made the climb up to the media seating, which was up at the top of the stadium. But since the MECCA was built for basketball and not hockey (like a certain other stadium in the area), the seats were magnificent. The only downfall was that TNT’s cameras were directly in front of us, but I’m not complaining. I later became aware that not all media received a seat, so I was pretty thankful for that.

The Bucks killed the intro video. Like, man, was it awesome. Obviously, I wasn’t alive to see the team play at the MECCA. But that video made me feel as if I did. I’ve grown up hearing my dad talk about the days of Jack Sikma, Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters, and more. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it down to Milwaukee, but he watched on television.

But back to the video. I thought they did a terrific job of having the current Bucks players on a dimly lit court with highlights of the past era rolling in the back. It captured the moment perfectly. Then, when the fans put up their flashlights, it made the atmosphere 100 times better. I can’t even begin to explain how cool it was.

When the game started, I got my hopes up of what I thought was going to transpire — no in-game arena music. I usually enjoy DJ O’s mix up during the game, but I was hoping tonight they would tone it down, just to match the atmosphere of the 70’s. The first two possessions featured no music, and it was so odd hearing the arena with just the sounds of the court. Eventually, the in-game music was brought to life and that made the experience a little worse, but not by much. There was also no “Clutch Crew” (the Bucks fan squad), which I think was appropriate for this game.

Unfortunately, the game didn’t go as we had all hoped, but boy, what a terrific experience. It was so cool seeing the Bucks get the recognition on national TV for not just their young team, but their rich and vibrant history. I think people across the nation typically forget how good the Bucks were back in the day, and this night helped them learn and remember about that.

Once postgame came around, I was expecting the worst when it came to the media experience — jammed pack. It can sometimes get a little packed in the locker room for Milwaukee basketball games, so I was anticipating a nightmare when the Bucks media was there. And boy, was it packed. Obviously, I can’t take pictures in the locker room, but just imagine the Bucks players saying “Excuse me” every four steps as they made their way to their lockers.

All in all, it was a terrific night. The history was remembered and resurrected for a night. It felt as if we were in the 70’s again for a night, and I loved it. Who knows, maybe the Bucks will do it once they move into the new arena. If they can keep this up, it would be incredible. However, the work that went into this was massive so I would understand if they didn’t. But even if they don’t, I won’t complain because last night was magical.