Instead of getting irate about the Bucks' confounding ability to shrug players in out of their fans' diminishing awareness of the existence of said Milwaukee NBA squad, I took a stroll through the archives here at thy hollowed institute of sportsbubble-tron. Of course this meant reviewing the all-important trade for Wally Szczerbiak's really neato cool wolf skin parka …
I still think it's a neato cool parka that should have been brought to Milwaukee last summer for a certain overpaid shooting guard nobody wants to think about but the reason I'm calling attention to it has nothing to do with satire or the parka — it's the game note at bottom (scroll down).
On the eve of the Feb. 19 trading deadline, our Bucks hosted the Chicago Bulls. The Bucks were on a three-game winning streak and in playoff position. The Bulls were a few games behind them in the standings, had just made a big trade with the Kings and were missing a few players. Here's the note I wrote after the game:
"Does Skiles miss Kirk Hinrich? It sounded so last night after Hinrich lit up the Bucks for 18 in the 4th in the Bulls 113-104 victory at the BC. Here's what Skiles said postgame in comments that didn't make the Milwaukee paper:
'Kirk had a great game, obviously shooting the ball and scoring. He just took our guards and made us look pretty silly on several occasions because he was playing so hard.'"
Who were those Bucks guards Skiles referred to? Box Score: Luke Ridnour and Michael Redd were out with injuries so that left Ramon Sessions and Charlie Bell, and Luc Mbah a Moute, who started at guard but floated around. Keith Bogans and Eddie Gill logged some minutes as well. That's not much to send (or is it?) against Derrick Rose and Skiles' Baby Bulls, Hinrich and Ben Gordon. Clearly, the coach was disappointed. He didn't think his guys, no matter how depleted, had any business being outclassed at home. This was one instance when the coach was expecting a bit more out of …
Ramon Sessions — who didn't have one of his better games (in 37 mins).
But Ramon was in large part responsible for the Bucks three game win streak, wins against Houston, Indiana and Detroit in Detroit. He had scored 26 against Houston, shredded Indiana (15 pts, 17 assists) and no Piston could stay with him after scoring 44 against them a few games prior in a tough home loss. It looked as though the Bucks, without their center, without Redd, were on track to a lower rung East playoff spot.
But then there were games like this Bulls game looming large as evidence that they weren't quite playoff worthy, no matter how tough they hung in there. And Hinrich seemed to enjoy making the point that his old coach's new guards were no match for his old ones.
Still, this performance (Feb. 18) was better than the season opener in Chicago. In that one, Sessions didn't play (coach's decision, still not clear why Sessions had to watch Ridnour all game) and the Bucks were uninspired, confused, never really in the game and burned by Hinrich and Gordon all night. After two games of this sort of play without Sessions (the second an ugly win in Oklahoma City in which Redd was benched in the first half), Skiles sat Ridnour (bad back) and started Sessions against the Raptors and the Knicks.
Suddenly, the Bucks looked like a team (except for that little problem Michael Redd had in the 4th quarter against the Raptors). The "should Ramon Sessions start?" polls began after the first week of the season.
Ramon had trouble challenging the jump shot of Raptors' point guard Juan Navarro (I do remember this detail from the game) but the fans had seen all they needed to see. The answer from the majority of Bucks fans was "YES."
Still, a double standard regarding evaluation of the point guard play of Ridnour and Sessions continued throughout the season.
Ramon was a fan favorite, one of the few bright spots for the Bucks the last few seasons. Sure, he might have made his coach miss his Baby Bulls guards at times, but the development of Sessions was something for Bucks fans to be excited about, and we were excited about it. We needed that. And Ridnour wasn't getting it done, it was clear to everybody except Scott Skiles.
Peachtree hoops – an Atlanta Hawks blog. Peachtree has some interesting insights on whether Sessions would have been a better acquisition for the Hawks than the resigning of Mike Bibby. It sounds like Peachtree didn't watch Ramon and the Bucks play much last season (there's a lot of surface level stat analysis in his evaluation) — but simply the fact that a Bibby vs. Sessions question is being raised is interesting enough in and of itself.