Ah yes, the 2020 NBA bubble. Quite a sight: virtual fans, shots of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s son on Zoom in the “crowd,” and, of course, high-level basketball.
Thursday on WKTY the Bucks overcame a 17-point first half deficit to the Miami Heat, and ended up winning 130-116. That, my friends, is a 14-point victory, and a 31-point total turnaround. Talk about True Grit!
All the rage of the so-called “smart sports talkers,” was that the Milwaukee Bucks were just not suited, just not ready to win.
They looked at the NBA’s bubble restart, and how coach Mike Budenholzer was using his rotations, as some sort of final indictment of how this Bucks team would perform in the NBA playoffs.
Heck a national CBS sports talker on our very own station suggested the Bucks were essentially the 2000 Sacramento Kings — not to get into the weeds here but there was NO two-time NBA MVP, two-time Coach of the Year, or multiple All-Stars on that Kings team. Just sayin’.
This year has been different than any year in the history of any of our lives. Yes, there may be some people — 10-12, who knows? Maybe 100 — that were alive and can recall the pandemic of Spanish flu in 1918. But, for the rest of us, this is new territory. So, discounting a team like the Bucks, even in strange circumstances, would be a grave mistake.
When you take, for example, the Antetokounmpo family story, you will see True Grit built right into the fabric of their upbringing. With, not one, but TWO Antetokounmpos on the same team, you’ve got yourself the makings of something special.
I’ve always thought this Bucks team was the most suited for an NBA bubble. They have two sets of brothers — one of them being identical twins — important in these closed circle situations. They also have one of the smartest coaches, coaching staffs and players, in general, in the entire NBA.
The mental fortitude needed, that True Grit, is what this Bucks team is all about.
Look at the origin story of Antetokounmpo. George Hill being traded for Kawhi Leonard on draft day. Kris Middleton, a second-round pick, who was discarded by the Detroit Pistons. Or any number of stories on this Bucks team contains. It’s hard to put this team in a specific category, because they seem to defy them all.
We all know there is still a long way to go before this year’s champion is crowned, I can’t help but think, on an afternoon in Florida, much outside of the time and comfort zone of the player’s rhythm, that True Grit was on display in Milwaukee’s win over the Heat.
Say what you will but I think Ol’ Rooster Cogburn would agree with me, this year’s Bucks team has some True Grit.