Milwaukee Bucks State of the Union: Fan Perspective

It is fair to say that the Milwaukee Bucks are currently in a golden era for the franchise. Gone are the days of perpetually competing for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference only to get disposed of with ease in the first round. The Bucks have elevated themselves as on organization to be consistently competing for championships year in and year out. With that being said, how should we evaluate the organization as fans? Where do we draw the line regarding the championship or bust mentality that so often comes with having a perennial MVP candidate on the roster?

To begin, it is reasonable to acknowledge that the current goal for the Milwaukee Bucks is to win a title, full stop. As long as Giannis is on the roster, that is the goal year in and year out. Ownership in Milwaukee has invested heavily to elevate the Bucks to a championship caliber organization. Combining the financial commitment to the core of Giannis, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, and Pat Connaughton, with the investments into a new practice facility and arena in downtown Milwaukee, it is clear that the expectations for this organization should be at the highest level. Now as fans, that can create a lot of pressure. Only 1 out of 30 NBA teams is going to win the championship each year, therefore the chances of it being the Bucks every single year is exceedingly low. However, it is fair for us fans to expect the organization to consistently be competing for championships. Therefore, it is justified for fans to expect the organization to be doing everything they can to put the best product on the floor. Whether that is things like paying luxury tax penalties and using salary cap exceptions such as the mid-level exception (or taxpayer midlevel, etc.), investing heavily into the front office and coaching staff, or always checking in on every available player in the trade or free agency market. As mentioned before though, these expectations come with a lot of pressure and anxiety for fans. What if the Bucks can't resign player X? What if the owners don't pay the luxury tax after this season to avoid repeater penalties? What if the Bucks just simply aren't good enough? All of these questions are relevant worries that a Bucks fan may experience throughout an NBA season. However, it is important for us Bucks fans to remember that pressure is a privilege. In just a mere few years, the questions Bucks fans pose have shifted from things such as will they make the playoffs this year? Or will they be above .500 this year? To the current set of questions along the lines of who is the Bucks biggest threat in the east? Will the Bucks finish this year as a top 2 seed in the conference?

In addition to the fair yet stressful expectations that come with being a Bucks fan currently, it is also important to circle back to the concept of appreciation. This connects closely to the aforementioned point surrounding pressure being a privilege. Despite all the expectations that come along with having a Giannis, and a Khris Middleton, and a Jrue Holiday, it is important for Bucks fans to recognize how amazing it is that the Bucks even have all that talent on one roster. Just 10 years ago, the Bucks were about to embark on the 2012-2013 season. That team was headlined by Monta Ellis, and saw games started by Samuel Dalembert, Marquis Daniels, Mike Dunleavy, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute en route to a 38-44 record and a first-round sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat. Fast forward to today, and the Bucks have a roster headlined by 2x MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and 3x All-Star Khris Middleton and are coming off a 53-29 season in which they would have been favored to repeat as champions had Middleton not gone down with a knee injury in the first round vs. the Chicago Bulls. That is a remarkable turnaround in just a decade that is important for Bucks fans to recognize. Up until the 2019 season, the Bucks hadn't won a playoff series since 2001! And now they are entering the 2022-23 season just 1 year removed from hanging a championship banner at Fiserv Forum.

Personally speaking, I was born in 2002 and grew up as a huge Milwaukee Bucks fan, meaning I saw a lot of mediocre basketball for many years before this golden era. Additionally, I can say that having a Bucks roster with an MVP candidate on it was something I could have never even dreamed of, as I was typically just hoping Michael Redd could get the last All-Star spot. Therefore, while it is fair and reasonable to experience a lot of pressure and nervousness as a Milwaukee Bucks fan in 2022, it is also important to acknowledge where the organization is at and appreciate all the greatness that we get to watch on a nightly basis, whether that is Giannis on the floor, Budenholzer on the sideline, or simply a new state-of-the-art arena in our small market of Milwaukee.

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