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SCHMIDT: No bang from its Bucks

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EricSchmidtI’m more Chicago than Al Capone wearing a thick pair of Harry Caray frames, so whenever Milwaukee does something positive it’s a tough pill to swallow.

As much as it pains me, I’ve got to give the Milwaukee Bucks some props. They’ve actually managed to lead the league in something, which happens even less frequently than you would think.

There’s no easy way for me to say it so I’ll just spit it out:

Congratulations, Bucks. You, without a doubt, lead the league in being worthless.

Tricked you, Cheeseheads. Now go ahead, write your hate mail and declare me the worst thing since Brett Favre in purple, but it won’t change the fact that the NBA franchise in this city is this close to folding like a bad poker hand.

It’s not even that the team stinks. Actually, the Bucks have been a huge surprise so far this season. Brandon Jennings — the skinny rookie who shoots with the wrong hand — is doing a commendable job of making the Bucks kinda, sorta exciting to watch. But this isn’t about wins or losses or championship trophies. It’s all about the Benjamins.

According to Forbes’ list of the most valuable NBA franchises, the Milwaukee Bucks ranked dead last. This means they were behind perennial laughing stocks like the Grizzlies and Kings, behind infantile teams like the Bobcats and Thunder, and even behind the woeful Clippers — a team that has about one winning record since the invention of the light bulb. The Bucks’ total value is over $100 million less than the league average.

Somewhere in Milwaukee, Bango the Buck is crying. But wait, it gets worse.

Last season, the Bucks were 24th out of 30 teams in attendance, and in the last five years they’ve never done better than 20th. And this season, despite the early success, the Bucks are only averaging about 14,000 fans per home game, which is more than 6,000 fewer than the league-leading Chicago Bulls. In the past decade, more people have seen the Loch Ness Monster than a Bucks game.

Luckily for the Bucks, there is a solution and an alternative to just flopping around like a helpless goldfish: move the team. Just pack up, cut your losses and start anew in a different city. The strategy has worked for many floundering professional sports teams. Milwaukee seems to be more of a Brewers and Packers town anyway, so it’s not like anyone is going to die of a broken heart if the team leaves.

Well, apparently there is one man. According to longtime NBA journalist Sam Smith, the Bucks’ owner, Sen. Herb Kohl, has sold his soul to the devil in order to keep his team in his hometown.

“Herb Kohl is one of the most committed owners in the NBA and is committed to his state,” Smith said via e-mail. “He would never move the team or sell to anyone who would move it.”

In addition to the Bucks’ ailing financial situation, there is also the matter of the team’s aging arena, the Bradley Center, which is the fourth oldest in the NBA and in dire need of renovations. The word around town is that a new arena may be built to house the Bucks, but it will be outside city limits. If that’s the case, there’s even more incentive to ship the team out. But Smith is confident the Bucks are staying put.

“They are one of the most stable franchises in the league even though their financial situation is troubled,” Smith said. “For Kohl, the Bucks are a labor of love, and you don’t walk out on something like that.”

I guess Milwaukee can breathe a sigh of relief and thank Kohl for saving the day. But I wouldn’t say the franchise is completely out of the woods. With professional sports being hit harder than anyone by the economic crisis, anything is possible. If things don’t change, one day this team could very well move to St. Louis or Seattle or some other basketball-starved city.

Did I mention I’m a Cubs fan? Please be gentle to me.

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8 Comments

8 Responses to “SCHMIDT: No bang from its Bucks”

  1. JOUR major, Milwaukee native on November 19th, 2009 11:22 am

    Talk about poor timing for an article. Jennings drops 55 points over the weekend and MJS runs two very pro-Bucks articles in yesterday’s edition. For the first time since my middle school years, people in Milwaukee are talking about the Bucks again.

    News is about current events. Currently, the Bucks are succeeding! We have been an awful franchise for the last 6 years, but you choose the week after a newly-beloved player sets an NBA rookie record?

    “The Bucks lead the league in being worthless” Talk about being worthless; how about the Bulls since Jordan’s hay day? Talk about the Cubs in any playoff situation.

    I understand roughly half of this school’s students come from the Chicago land area, but you’re living in Milwaukee. This was the wrong article at the wrong time.

  2. Ananymous on November 19th, 2009 11:54 am

    Agree with the above… completely!

  3. Ananymous on November 19th, 2009 11:55 am

    the above COMMENT that is… NOT the article!

  4. AnOnymous on November 19th, 2009 3:44 pm

    The Chicago Bulls have about 1.9 million more people from whom to draw the 6,000 more people in attendance per game than the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Fans in Milwaukee appreciate winning and the Bucks have not been “good” since ’03-’04 (they snuck into the playoffs in ’05-’06 with a losing record.) Attendance has been poor since then. If the Bucks continue their early success you will certainly see a significant increase in attendance.

    And since you brought it up, the Cubs recently declared bankruptcy…

  5. Josh on November 19th, 2009 3:50 pm

    I have a serious beef with this article. For the first time, something I read in the Tribune enraged me. I resent the mean-spiritedness, most of all. If you have such a difficult time giving Milwaukee any credit, then why did you choose to attend college in this city? I don’t think joking about losing the city’s NBA franchise is funny nor relevant, especially when it appears that Brandon Jennings is a superstar. I wish I went to Loyola or DePaul and I could write about how much the Cubs or Bears sucked in their school newspaper. Quit being a troll.

    So, after Jennings scored 32, 55, 25, and 19 in his past four games, the Tribune publishes this? What? Close to folding in this city? Not only does it appears that they are swinging in the opposite direction. Sir, it’s quite obvious that the Bucks are dead last in the league in total value: they play in an old arena, until now, they’ve had no marketable star, and they play in a small TV market, dominated by the Brewers and Packers. You can’t compare attendance when Chicago is 5-6 times larger than Milwaukee and play in a much nicer facility.

    Please, man. If you’re going to write for the sports section, stick to the basketball team or something like that. We get it, you’re a Chicagoan. But have some respect for Milwaukee.

  6. Bucks fan on November 20th, 2009 7:24 pm

    Really? Go back to Chicago. If you are so upset with the bucks you don’t have to watch. The bulls remind me of tom crean, riding the coat tails of a star. Just in case your suburban Chicago mind did get the analogy the bulls have Jordan and crean had Wade. W/e your not worth anymore of my time, PEACE and God bless.

  7. Bucks fan on November 20th, 2009 7:38 pm

    One final thing, 14000 fans per game in a 19000 seat stadium isn’t that bad. Any of the editors reading this post please let go of mr Erick Scmidt, he doesn’t deserve to write for the Marquette community. Oh yeah when was the last time any Chicago team won any major championship? Lmao

  8. DeepDished on November 20th, 2009 9:41 pm

    Portland, Oregon Population-557,706 Attendance-17,167
    Cleveland, Ohio Population-433,748 Attendance- 18,899
    Salt Lake City, Utah Population- 181,698 Attendance- 17,038
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Population- 551,789 Attendance- 16,679
    Miami, Florida Population- 413,201 Attendance- 18,229
    Denver, Colorado Population-598,707 Attendance- 17,223
    Orlando, Florida Attention- 230,519 Attendance- 17,043
    New Orleans Louisiana Population- 311,853 Attendance- 16,968
    Atlanta, Georgia- 537,958 Attendance- 16,748
    Washington,DC Population- 591,833 Attendance- 16,612

    All cities smaller than Milwaukee with greater attendance figures. Just saying.

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