Phil Jackson kicked off the trend of returning to NBA roots by assuming the presidency of the New York Knicks, and now it appears Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could follow suit by resuscitating the Milwaukee Bucks.
According to an interview on CNBC's Fast Money (via Brew Hoop), the NBA's all-time leading scorer said:
The team is probably going to change hands soon, I don't know what's going to happen specifically, but I'm keeping an eye on it. I might possibly try to be involved, it would be great to be able to help the franchise where, that I worked for, get back to the top. They deserve it, the Wisconsin sports fans are incredible, and they deserve a first-rate team.
Abdul-Jabber started his career with the Bucks in 1969, playing six All-Star seasons in Milwaukee before heading to the Los Angeles Lakers. Like Jackson, Abdul-Jabbar still feels a connection to his first NBA home.
Whether he'll ever move past the "keeping an eye on it" phase of potential ownership is debatable, though. The Bucks are suffering in just about every way imaginable, which doesn't make them look all that appealing.
The league's worst record, the most decrepit arena and the declining interest of a dejected fanbase are just the beginning. Milwaukee is also dealing with a mismatched roster and the looming threat of a potential move.
Obviously, Abdul-Jabbar's presence in the ownership group—even if he only existed as a figurehead—would help. The Golden State Warriors have employed Jerry West as an executive board member since 2011. So even if Abdul-Jabbar doesn't take on an ownership role in Milwaukee, there's a precedent for hiring on former legends in other front-office roles.
All-time greats have a way of adding credibility to franchises in search of a turnaround.
And while you wouldn't expect there to be much competition for the franchise to which Forbes assigned the lowest overall value in the league ($405 million), Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports otherwise:
Three months after former U.S. senator Herb Kohl said he was seeking additional partners to help keep the team in Milwaukee, there has been robust interest from around the country.
That's the word from a source familiar with NBA transactions.
"It's a pretty robust process," the source said. "There's a lot of interest in the NBA and this is the only team on the market. There is a considerable amount of interest.
"it's safe to say that anybody with the means and interest in the NBA has inquired. A lot of phone calls from around the country," the source said.
It's hard to know if anything will come of Kohl's search for buyers, and it's even harder to guess what level of involvement Abdul-Jabbar is prepared to undertake. But he's been in the house for a few games this year, so his interest seems genuine.
Jackson got the ball rolling, and now it seems Abdul-Jabbar could be the next all-time great to prove you can go home again.