Milwaukee Bucks: The 7 Most Franchise-Altering Moments in Bucks History

Rob SchimkeContributor IIIJuly 27, 2011

Milwaukee Bucks: The 7 Most Franchise-Altering Moments in Bucks History

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    With every NBA franchise, there are those moments.

    Moments that we all can point to that forever changed the direction of the team.

    The Milwaukee Bucks are no exception.  Since they arrived in the league in 1969, they have had their fare share of highs and lows.

    Let's take a look at the seven events in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks that would alter the franchise forever and bring us to the current status of the Milwaukee Bucks.

7. John Hammond Takes over as General Manager

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    For the last 10 years, the Bucks have struggled.  Being a small-market team, the draft and free-agent management is crucial to creating any success with an NBA franchise.  

    Prior to John Hammond's arrival in Milwaukee, the Bucks were saddled with poor decision-makers at the executive level.  

    John Hammond has shown a willingness to take the calculated risks to acquire talent as a general manager.  He has also shown he has the ability to move players that simply are not working.  

    While he has not been able to achieve the success we have hoped for at this point, his willingness to make moves to improve this team casts an optimistic cloud around this franchise's future.

6. "Big O" in Milwaukee

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    The year was 1970.  Kareem Abdul-Jabber had led the Milwaukee Bucks to a 56-29 record in only their second season as a franchise.

    The Bucks were looking for a veteran to pair with their young star.  The Bucks shocked the world by trading for Oscar Robertson.  

    Oscar proved to be the missing piece in his first season as a Buck.  During the 1970-1971 season "The Big O" led the Bucks while averaging 19 points, six rebounds and eight assists.  He also shot nearly 50 percent from the field that year.  Paired with Kareem, they would win the NBA championship that season.

    While the Bucks had Oscar during the later years of his outstanding career, his leadership and complete skill set took a franchise in its infancy to a 248-80 record in his four incredible seasons during the 1970s with the Milwaukee Bucks.

5. Dr. J Won't Play in Milwaukee

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    By now, we are all familiar with the concept of a Big Three in basketball.  We have seen it many times before.

    But did you know the Milwaukee Bucks almost had a Big Three with possibly three of the top 10 players in NBA history? 

    Before the draft of 1972, the Bucks had a dynamic duo in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, who had just propelled the Bucks to a NBA championship the year prior. 

    With the 12th overall pick in the 1972 draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Julius Erving.  Despite being drafted by the Bucks, Erving signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks for the 1972-73 season.  The Hawks were fined $25,000 per game that Dr. J appeared in due to Milwaukee holding his rights.  He was later sold to the 76ers where he enjoyed incredible success over several seasons.

    Dr. J simply had no interest in coming to Milwaukee.  The possibilities of what could have been are endless.  A Big Three of Abdul-Jabbar, Robertson and Erving would be arguably the best trio of players to ever step on the court.  

    Had Dr. J signed on as a Buck, we would have had one of the greatest players in history on an already outstanding team.

    Bucks fans can only dream about what might have been.

4. Don Nelson Brings New Life to the Bucks

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    Don Nelson has never been known for his defense, but his acumen on the offensive side is matched by few coaches in history.

    When he took over as the Bucks head coach full-time during the 1977-1978 season, he brought with him a unique style of basketball.  

    The point-forward concept was new to the NBA and worked extremely well for Coach Nelson.  It was later used for such skilled players as Magic Johnson and LeBron James

    During his 10 full seasons with the Bucks, Nelson amassed a record of 513-307.  He also won seven consecutive division titles while at the helm for the Bucks.  

    Coach Nelson was often criticized for his inability to win a championship while in Milwaukee, but he brought a culture of success to Milwaukee for over a decade.  

3. Curse of Anthony Mason

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    The Milwaukee Bucks made a deep playoff run during the 2000-2001 NBA season.  They were one game away from reaching the NBA Finals.

    Going into the 2001-2002 season, the Bucks were looking for that one piece to put them over the top.  They thought they had found that piece in Anthony Mason.

    The only problem was Anthony Mason showed up 30 pounds overweight and with a bad attitude.  The season was lost early as Mason continually trashed his teammates both publicly and privately.  This created huge chemistry issues.  The Bucks missed the playoffs, and all members of the Big Three were gone within one season.

    Ray Allen was traded for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason.  Glenn Robinson was traded for Toni Kukoc and a first-round pick, which was used to select T.J. Ford.  Sam Cassell was traded after the next season for Joe Smith.  There were other players involved, but none were worth noting.

    After the Big Three was gone, the Bucks would not sniff the playoffs for more than seven years.

    Many would argue that we are still feeling the sting of the Anthony Mason curse.

2. Not Enough Culture for Kareem

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    After the Bucks' first season in 1968-1969, they had the first pick of the NBA draft.  They used it to draft a young player named Lew Alcindor.

    You may know him better as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time scoring leader.

    In his first season with the Bucks, he averaged nearly 29 points and 15 rebounds per game in a Rookie of the Year bid.  

    In his second season with the Bucks, he aided the Bucks in winning the NBA championship.

    But after six successful seasons with the Bucks, Kareem decided Milwaukee was not meeting his cultural needs.  He demanded a trade for that reason, and the Bucks reluctantly traded him to the the Los Angles Lakers...where Kareem went on to win five more NBA championships to the Bucks' zero.

    The Bucks picked up some decent players in the trade, but none of which came close to having the impact on the team that Kareem did.

    Potentially more critical was the message this action sent out to the rest of the players in the NBA.  His opinion and desire to leave Milwaukee portrayed the city poorly, and we can never know how big of an impact this truly had on the Milwaukee Bucks franchise in terms of league perception. 

1. NBA Champions

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    Any NBA championship will be franchise-altering for a team.  But to win it all in only your third year of existence...that is truly an accomplishment. 

    During the 1970-1971 season, the Bucks simply dominated.  They finished the regular season with a record of 66-16.  They plowed through the playoffs with a record of 12-2 en route to the NBA championship.

    The Milwaukee Bucks put themselves on the map in 1971.  It set a standard of excellence in Milwaukee that would lead the Bucks to have much success throughout the '70s and '80s.  

    This title is the only title in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks so far.  For many of us, we were not even alive when it happened.  But without this early success, who knows how the infant franchise would have survived?


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    The Milwaukee Bucks have experienced many franchise-altering events.  Whether good or bad, these events forever changed the trajectory of the Milwaukee Bucks.

    While the Bucks should not dwell on the past, they must not forget it.  Imitate what drove you to success, and avoid the pitfalls of the past.

    This will make all of the most franchise-altering events in the Bucks history worthwhile, regardless of the impact they may have had at the time.