I’m J.D. Mo, and welcome to the Bob Boozer Jinx, an NBA blog mostly, with an irrational sometimes focus on the Milwaukee Bucks. I’ve been a Bucks junkie since 1977 when Nellie drafted Marques Johnson and the team was Green and Growing and built to contend for NBA championships … until their power forward, Dave Meyers, retired for reasons unknown (he won’t talk about it to this day). I knew then that things stranger than fiction could happen to the Milwaukee Bucks, which they certainly did and surely will until the day the franchise folds due to the whims of the interplanetary economy.
Often these strange occurrences have revolved around the power forward position: losing Curtis Perry in the 1974 expansion draft; the strange and forgotten saga of Nellie and George Johnson; the ill-fated trade of Mickey Johnson for point guard T.J. Ford in 1982; Larry Krystkowiak wrecking his knee against the Bad Boys Pistons in the 1989 playoffs; trading madman 1997 draft pick Danny Fortson for a center (Ervin Johnson) born to be pushed around by Dikembe Mutombo; swapping Dirk Nowitzki for Robert “Tractor” Traylor in the 1998 draft; the league’s suspension of Scott Williams for Game 7 against the Sixers in the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals (not saying he didn’t deserve it); and even the case of Ersan Ilyasova — who to this day wears Dave Meyers‘ #7 — traded to Detroit for nothing, only to see the Bucks blow $10.5 million a year on a non-playing replacement, Mirza Teletovic.
After much careful analysis and half a bottle of tequila, the conclusion was inescapable: The Bucks are jinxed at the power forward position. Still not sold? The current starting power forward is Giannis Antetokounmpo, yet the Bucks were swift to identify him as anything but: point guard, shooting guard, point forward, forward, Greek freak, destined for the hall of fame of bad nicknames. Giannis is not often thought of as a power forward, but he may break this jinx someday. Such is the nature of the jinx.
The blog was named after the late Bob Boozer, forward on the legendary 1960 Olympic team with Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas, an All-Star in the 1960s, and, at 6’8″ the only true power forward*¹ the Bucks had on their one and only championship team. Yes, we do care about winning basketball here at the Bob Boozer Jinx, and, above all else, Bob Boozer was one of life’s true winners. Upon the event of his death in 2012, his wife Ella described him as a man who “always said he got everything you could have ever gotten from playing basketball.” He retired from the NBA after Lew Alcindor and Oscar led the Bucks to the 1971 title, and settled in his hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. The Bucks and their fans have known plenty of heartbreak ever since. *¹ – see note below.
Think the missed calls and “what ifs” were hard to take in 2001? To have lived and died a hundred times through the near misses and bad luck of the Nellie years in the 1980s was a special kind of torture. Our stars, Marques Johnson and Sidney Moncrief, and Bob Lanier, never quite got to be like Jim Kelly, loser of four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. NFL history may have forgiven Kelly, but NBA history has never forgiven Marques and Sidney for failing to make it to the NBA Finals. The Basketball Hall of Fame North America Committee confirms this bitter truth each and every year they vote on a new class of inductees.
The effect of all this has been the germination of a certain absurdist fatalism amid Milwaukee pro basketball fandom; and it runs like a slow and steady current under much of the content here at the Bob Boozer Jinx.
You’ll also find here in-depth statistical analysis and the recently introduced Basketball Impact and Efficiency Rating (BIER ), which shares an acronymical homography with the German word for beer. The excruciating blog wherein BIER and its formula are explained is forthcoming (ed. note – J.D. Mo has been saying this for more than a year).
There is a natural bent toward NBA history in many a Bob Boozer Jinx blog because pro basketball history is crazy and good and representative of American life in ways that only it can represent; also because hardly anybody else seems to get it right. (I tried watching Bill Simmons’
new now-canceled sports talk show on HBO but had to quit after Simmons’ Tim Duncan retirement spiel spun to nonsense.) History is difficult to write in real time, and should never be written when TV ratings are involved and there’s somebody’s jock to sniff for money.
It’s a good idea to follow the Bob Boozer Jinx at twitter, as you’ll get notifications about new content and the occasional tweet about the Bucks, international basketball and other points of interest that are probably not all that important to you in your everyday life, but at least I’ll be able to say that this blog has twitter followers (it’s true!).
Bob BoozerJinx@Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/bobboozerjinx
Enjoy your visit – there’s quite an archive to dig into! – and come back any time and often.
Contact info for J.D. Mo: firstname.lastname@example.org
*¹ Note on “only true power forward” statement: Some may point out that the starting “PF” on the Bucks 1971 championship team was Greg Smith, and, indeed, for his three-plus years in Milwaukee (1968-1971), basketball-reference lists the 6′ 5″, 195-lb Smith as a PF. However, Smith was traded to Houston during the season after the championship (in Dec. 1971) in part because the Bucks believed they needed a bigger, stronger forward to start alongside Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor). Bob Boozer’s retirement in the 1971 off-season had left the Bucks without a true PF in their rotation. Curtis Perry, the 6’7″, 220-lb forward who came to Milwaukee in the trade, fit the bill.
*¹ The proof is in the game itself. Here’s video of the full broadcast of a classic Bucks-Knicks game played Nov. 27, 1970. The Knicks are the defending 1970 champs. The Bucks are on a 16-game winning streak, and will go on to win 66 regular season games and the 1971 championship. A great game, must watch basketball if there ever was. Greg Smith is #4.
*¹ If you watched the game, you’ll know that Smith, the alleged power forward, is assigned to guard Knicks point guard Walt Frazier, while shooting guard Jon McGlocklin is shifted up to play forward, against Bill Bradley, with Bob Dandridge matched up with Knicks PF Dave DeBusschere. Smith, Dandridge, McGlocklin and Bucks point guard Oscar Robertson are about the same size, creating the visual effect of Kareem + four big guards in the Bucks starting lineup. Position-less basketball in 1970? On the 1971 Bucks, the interchangeable parts moved in accordance with each player’s skill set and the match-ups within the game. Oscar was big enough to play forward but was a natural point guard and ran the offense; Dandridge had forward size (6’6″) and classic all-around game; McGlocklin was one of the best outside shooters in basketball, so he filled the shooting guard role. Smith was the smallest of the four in stature but was not a good shooter, so by default he was like a “garbage man” on offense, crashing the boards from the weak side (similar to Dennis Rodman on the 1996 Bulls). Smith’s long arms and quickness made him a better defender than Oscar, so on D Smith got the job of hawking top flight guards like Frazier. After being traded by the Bucks, Smith was listed as either a small forward (SF) or point guard (PG) the remainder of his NBA career.