First off, I’d like to wish you well on this Memorial Day. The occasion is always solemn and invites contemplation, and in a way the impact of the pandemic cutting short normal social interaction opens the day up to solemnity more than usual. And if you aren’t an American, the well wishes are extended regardless.
I’ve been contemplating other things this past week, and it has to do with the mood I’ve struck on these columns the past two months. Gloomy, pessimistic, wry with any attempt by the league and world at-large to forge a path of normality in unusual circumstances. Why my symbolic sour face? I’m not sure; perhaps it is a manifestation of discontent with the conflict between a yearning for a personal re-think fired by this disease and the financial demands of professional sports.
I recently heard someone say that functional professional sports only exist in societies in which most criteria of ordered normality are in place. That idea has stuck with me since I heard it and has dampened any inspiration to go all that deep on Bucks-related content (to be fair, you can all attest to my disturbing lack of inspiration prior to the pandemic hitting). However, this is ostensibly a site about the Milwaukee Bucks, and the league is ostensibly making the attempt to get the band back together. Pending a mishap or two, it is incumbent upon us at the site to treat it for the genuine revival that it is.
And so I’m going to turn this digital frown upside down for the good of the readership. I’ve got a few Brook Lopez-shaped irons in the content fire; let’s see what comes of it.
Could the NBA return this season? What to know about the bubble concept (ESPN) & The Testing Plans at the Center of the NBA’s Relaunch Efforts (The Ringer)
I’ll begin here by giving the league full credit for doing what they can to restart under the auspices of officially/scientifically-suggested guidance. That makes the task of pulling it off that much more daunting, but they don’t look to be cutting any corners figuring this bubble out.
Both pieces are worth reading: The first to grapple with the enormity of the challenge, the second to understand the hinge upon which this whole operation will depend.
The idea of group testing as a way to reduce the amount of resources needed to keep things moving is an intriguing one. How often it would need to be repeated to ensure proper coverage throughout the bubble event is an open question, but there are concrete theories being tossed about to figure out what may work best. 2,000 daily tests would be a nightmare; 2,000 once a week feels in the range of possibility.
Regular CNBC panelist and every-four-years governor of the Milwaukee Bucks Marc Lasry has been dropping nuggets of information the past few months allowing us a look inside the glass of NBA owner debates. He’s been pretty optimistic about the league making a go of it from the start of the shutdown, but the point of interest here is his floating the possibility of having Western Conference teams start in Las Vegas and Eastern Conference teams in Orlando.
Is he angling to reinforce the Bucks’s Lopez twins-sized home court advantage at Disney World? A chess master never reveals his hand.
Waiting until the coronavirus hits to admit the impact of Brook Lopez’s mere physical presence on team rebounding is fine, though it feels like well-trodden ground (around these parts, at least). I do wonder what trade-offs there would be if Lopez decided to be an activist on the glass. Offensive rebounds would still be a relative non-starter with his positioning on the perimeter, but would he be able to bring the DREB% up a few ticks without harming the team values overall? The beauty in it is Giannis’s presence as the clean-up guy, and, most importantly, it’s worked wonders two years in a row now.
I didn’t have a chance to tune in while it was live, but the Bucks have the recording of Pat’s long day as a sports talk radio fellow on-demand. (The segments from May 21st what you’re looking for)
Pat is a good talker and knows his stuff when it comes to numerous sports, plus he has the added bonus of being teammates with one of his marquee guests:
.@Giannis_An34 to @pconnaughton on the difference between the 15-win @Bucks and now:— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) May 21, 2020
"The biggest difference is the organization. We've created an organization with a winning mentality. That's what I wanted to be a part of since day one."
Now THAT is reassuring to hear.
It’ll never cease to amaze how well Giannis has threaded the needle on his path towards global fame. His point about actively working to keep the two personalities of “Giannis” and “The Greek Freak” separated into their respective corners is poignant. There are plenty of commitments that come with being a renowned athlete, and he’s been able to take them on while thriving in one of the league’s smallest markets. To his credit, it doesn’t seem like it’s gone to his head in any extreme way. Who knows, though; maybe we’ll find out tomorrow that he’s actually convinced that TGF Inc. can only thrive in LA and we have to trade him.
The Social Media Section
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Khris’s videographer does prime work
The Ilyasova family has taken over for DJ Wilson in “random ‘grams without context”
I just imagine the source with a single tear running down his eye
Tell your source to pull themselves together. https://t.co/x5t4WHRWKK— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) May 23, 2020
“I gotta step up” - The Bucks won and Charlie led the team with 19 points
never forget when charlie villanueva tweeted this during halftime lol pic.twitter.com/DVB8uDf9vV— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) May 23, 2020
This week’s “I Can’t Believe Riley Is Still Plugging These Damn Things” podcast: Gabe Stoltz joined me to go in-depth on his time working media at Bucks home games for Brew Hoop. We discussed the food, buttoning down and not being “a fan” while in the press box, whether the players are tall in person, and more! The audio through the first 20 minutes is, as ever, lessened in quality because of my inability to properly stage-manage a mere YouTube recording. Enjoy!