Ah Bucks in 6 a tale as old as time has finally come into fruition. The phrase Bucks in 6 is one that is near and dear to the city of Milwaukee and all Bucks fans. Coined famously by Brandon Jennings in the year 2013 after falling to the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat. Ironically this would be the year the Bucks would draft Giannis and although Bucks fans certainly did not know it that would be the start of the future.
Prior to the matchup where the Bucks were the 8 seed and the Heat were the 1 seed Jennings proclaimed the Bucks would win in 6 games, and as you know the Bucks were then clobbered in 4. That off-season the Bucks would ship Jennings off to the Pistons and the Bucks would receive Brandon Knight as well as some second rounder most of you wouldn’t know, Khris Middleton. The Bucks would also take some tall and skinny Greek kid known as Giannis Antetokounmpo. They would then have a disastrous year after losing the previous year’s top two scorers and would finish an abysmal 15-67.
The Down Days of the Bucks
As a kid in the city, I remember when tickets were practically given away the team was so bad and the seats still wouldn’t be filled. Milwaukee basketball was in a very bad place and hadn’t seen any success since 2001’s conference finals appearance. After this season we took Jabari Parker who was arguably the best player in college basketball. And things were looking very promising however after a few seasons he suffered a number of injuries and when his free agency came up the Bucks chose not to match his qualifying offer and he was off to the bulls.
The Rise of the Greek Freak
For a lot of fan bases they would be devastated their number 2 overall pick didn’t work out and they would seemingly be back to square one. This, however, was not the case for the Bucks. There actually was a sense of optimism in the city about Giannis. He went from just 6.8 points a game to now 26.9 he had plays he pulled off no one else could such as the dunk over Tim Hardaway and we got rid of Jason Kidd and were on to the future. (on a side note Jennings briefly joined the team and doubled down on bucks in 6) we didn’t quite know the superstar we had in Giannis but we knew there was something we finally had for the first time in 20 years a Bonafede star.
The Rising Expectations
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Greek freak and the deer however, as the years went on and he improved his expectations increased. We had the raptors series where not only he did but the team melted down. The following year he followed that although disappointing postseason electric regular season where he won his first MVP with a second MVP season with a DPOY as well. As you all know the NBA was shut down for a while until the bubble where the bucks with no Kawhi or Lebron in the east were the favorites to come out of the east and presumably he would meet Lebron where they would face off for the ‘’crown’’ of the NBA.
Giannis and the top seeded Bucks were then upset by the Miami Heat and quickly dispatched in five and the team looked the same as last year, Giannis couldn’t shoot and Middleton didn’t look good enough to be a number two and any sports talk show you turned on critiqued Giannis and the Bucks.
Commitment to Winning
This was especially hard for the people of the city as we hadn’t won a conference final since 1974. We hadn’t won the championship since 1971. This city didn’t stop believing in Giannis. We knew how special he was, and we refused to give up on the skinny kid from Greece despite what the national media said. The fans were rewarded for our patience and loyalty to our superstar. As he resigned, our team showed our commitment to winning. WE started by picking up stud defender Jrue Holiday in a massive trade. As well as picking up the new city favorite Bobby Portis. We then took this a step further after early season struggles, we signed scrappy veteran forward PJ Tucker. Everyone still had their doubts but not Bucks fan to us it was still ”bucks in 6”.
Fast forward to the end of the regular season and we have the chance to avoid Miami in the playoffs. A team who crushed us last year and instead play a young Atlanta team. We could even avoid Brooklyn until the conference finals. In typical Giannis fashion however, we didn’t take the easy way out. We won out to make sure we played Miami in round 1 and that is where it all came together. Giannis would have the chance for redemption as he exorcised his past demons. We quickly dispatched Miami in 4
On to the Nets
next was the juggernaut Brooklyn Nets with Harden, Kyrie, and Durant. We quickly fell down 0-2, without Harden playing. And the concern was real for another Bucks burnout especially after a 40-point drubbing in game 2. The next two games were in Fiserv where the Bucks fittingly were dominant all year with arguably the best home court advantage (I admit there could be bias here) the Bucks would win the next two and Kyrie got hurt but Harden came back. Just when it looked as if the series was in our hand. Durant plays the best game of his life and we are down 3-2. Fitting for how Giannis’ career has gone. We clawed back against all odds and won by an inch literally and figuratively in 7 games.
We fell down 0-1 to Atlanta before again fittingly winning in 6. Giannis however was seriously injured in game 4 and even though Middleton played lights out in his absence, we knew we couldn’t beat phoenix without him. By all accounts of experts Giannis was done for the year. He came back and was a surprise start for game 1 we however would still lose the first 2. We would come back and win the next 4 with Giannis having arguably the most dominant finals ever. In storybook fashion we completed Brandon’s prophecy of Bucks in 6.
The City’s Reaction
The feeling this created for the city was more important than anything, however. I was at the deer district when the clock hit zero. For the first time in my life the Bucks were winners. I had never seen the city like that before. the city shut down. The nation got to see how much Milwaukee loved our Bucks. As 65,000 packed into the deer district with 18,000 more inside.
The story couldn’t have been told any better. Everything was a culmination of years of seeing Giannis develop. similar to how our city is treated being made fun of by the media. It justified every head scratching move by coach Bud as well as our front office. It will go down as the greatest night in the history of the city. As young and old and black and white came together to celebrate and roam the streets. To finally be able to say with a smile and as champions, Bucks in 6.