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What It Means to Be Milwaukee

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Bucks fandom isn’t just about basketball, it’s a way of being

For nearly twenty years, the Bucks have been in a cycle of drudgery. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the kind of player to break such a cycle, but he cannot do that without a team building approach that has greater vision than that displayed so far this offseason.

Our team barely registers on the national radar until the Greek Freak fundamentally breaks the game. Our town doubles up with Minneapolis to form the NBA’s gulag archipelago. The future is coming, yet we can never own the future if the present has no cohesive form.

Signing Ersan Ilyasova was fine. If Jabari Parker re-signs or we get a fair offer to match in an ugly market, that’s fine (even if he takes the QO, I think that’s fine too). Mike Budenholzer seems a fine coach, DiVincenzo a fine young player. Brook Lopez is a fine solution to a problem the Bucks keep creating for themselves, the poor franchise’s take on the DMC pickup to cover for Henson & Maker.

The Bucks have done fine things for nearly twenty years. Fine has not grown into a contender, it hasn’t even won a playoff series. There’s only so many times you can take a team this close to a game seven miracle before it drives a fan insane.

The Future is Coming

Despite a cycle of slogans promising future growth through working hard, potential, and hoo boy look at those combine figures this isn’t a basketball team it’s a forest, the Bucks keep spinning their wheels.

Fine seems to get away with decades of stagnation by always setting the goalposts a couple of years from now. Fine is how we end up with so much unwanted bloat we don’t have the coffers to pay that elusive free agent dark horse that puts us over the top. Every offseason we say we couldn’t land that big fish, but there’s no bait on the line because every offseason we pay market price for mediocre production.

A focus on doing everything in the short term has not yielded a winner. Only a long term vision can succeed where others have failed to build a contender. Giannis’ emergence might leave the impression that the Bucks are ready to rise and make amazing happen, but he needs more than Middleton and the Green & Growing Scrubs to become the next warden of the East.

As Bucks fans, we have endured much. Many a potential savior has come and fallen. Many a coach has been broken by absent whistles & chemistry that turns frigid in February’s cruel embrace.

If you’re here, and you’ve been a fan for more than five years, I salute you. If you are fresh to the party, grab a beer and hunker down. This experience isn’t for the weak-hearted.

After all, we know it’s not opposing teams that fear the deer. Not now. Not yet. There have been too many bad faith moves and broken promises. Too many budding rivalries that failed to blossom. Too many players that came here to rot out their late twenties in 25 minute chunks. Too many rolled ankles, popped knees and dunks that came at too high a price. Too many years chasing phantoms while the rest of the league adapted to a whole new way to play the game.

Until we have reason to hold faith, to truly believe that the Bucks can light up the whole league again, it’s us. We fear the deer.