NBA.com reported this week that the Bucks have switched Development League teams, losing their affiliation with the Tulsa 66ers when the team was purchased by the Oklahoma City Thunder (yep, that's officially the Supersonics' new name — apparently the Seattle-fleeing cowboys weren't too impressed with the Bob Boozer Jinx proposal, the Rawhides).
The Bucks will now send their 1st and 2nd year players to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they'll join the invasion of …
The Fort Wayne Mad Ants, also the affiliate of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, are promoting last year's D-League star Bucks guard Ramon Sessions with the Bucks switch but Ramon won't be anywhere near that picnic. Rookie small forward Luc Mbah a Moute, the Bucks 2nd round pick, might do some time as a Mad Ant and it's possible 1st round pick Joe Alexander could find himself in the D-League if Mbah a Moute is more NBA-ready at this point (don't scoff — if Alexander doesn't find his game, no reason to keep in Milwaukee). In either case (and it would be one or the other to Fort Wayne but not both) it does appear that being a Mad Ant would be a lot more fun than sitting on the bench in Milwaukee …
The NBA's Basketball Without Borders Africakicked off yesterday (Sept. 3) in Johannesberg, South Africa as NBA players, including Bucks guard Charlie Bell and Racine native Caron Butler of the Washington Wizards, toured the city's Apartheid Museum and visited an AIDS hospice. Today, the sixth annual Africa camp — a Special Olympics camp — opened and the players rolled out the pill, with former Buck and NBA hall of famer Bob "the Dobber" Lanier, now special assistant to NBA commissioner David Stern, doing the honors.
Here's Charlie doing something that wouldn't be allowed around the lions at the Milwaukee Zoo.
Notice that he's not quite touching the lion cub, though it's apparently well fed and deeply sleeping … but that's still good work, Charlie. How often does anyone get to sneak in on a sleeping lion?
I have a feeling Charlie's role as Michael Redd's back-up will be more expansive this season than last. I foresee trouble ahead between coach Scott Skiles and Redd, who's not one to warm up to the concepts of team play or defense. Charlie should get some opportunities, and with Richard Jefferson and Joe Alexander on hand he won't be called on to play small forward as much as he was last season.
Last season was a forgettable one for Bell, as then-GM Larry Harris neglected Bell's contract negotiations but then surprised him by matching the free agent offer he received from the Miami Heat. Despite not being too happy about being a Buck and mired in a season-long shooting slump, Bell's defense and toughness earned him minutes under coach Larry Krystkowiak and will probably impress Skiles, too. He is a Flintstone, after all. Look for Charlie to have a solid, productive comeback in 2008-09.
The British did the world a fine thing by commissioning Led Zeppelin guitarist and maestro Jimmy Page to compose its London 2012 presentation for the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. The eight-minute piece – which featured Page, singer Leona Lewis and a reworked version of "Whole Lotta Love" – created quite a buzz all over the planet and earned a thumbs up from the toughest of critics — Led Zeppelin fans, who were more than a little anxious about how it would come off. Page called it as "a wonderful, compact statement of why we're all here, which is London '12"; and raved about Lewis, describing the staging as "so her, so classy" and her vocals "dazzling."
And if there are any lingering doubts about how cool it was to Zeppelin-ize the Olympics, check out this video montage put together by Zep fan Videofleet. Beijing, basketball and Led Zeppelin! Brilliant!!!
I'd watch that vid a second time before scrolling down further …
Someone sent me a picture a few days ago
in my email
I've been trying hard
On second thought (well, it won't load to the site for some reason) … it seems the basketball gods have conspired with the Led Zeppelin gods to ensure your unfettered enjoyment of those two fine things in life.
With the Olympics ending and the British proving the old axiom that if you have Led Zeppelin at your disposal, it’s probably in your best interests to play some … And now with the Democratic convention underway proving again one of its most tried and true party axioms — that Ted Kennedy doesn’t really resonate with the working class in Middle America, which won’t stop the party from trying (he’s not well and I’m sorry, but it’s a strange feeling starting a week knowing precisely when and where and how many times you’d heard something before said in precisely the same way you just heard it said …)
.. It’s only fitting then that our Bucks, too, played out an axiom of their own in the 2008 Olympic games. Allow me to be the one to point it out, if only because someone should. (And because my notes got away and ended up published for a few hours yesterday) So … here’ goes:
Milwaukee Bucks players, when given an opportunity, will disappoint. They’ve done it for a few years now, to the point where it’s become enough of a habit to pass into “axiom” stage. Changes in uniform, team, environment, venue and competition could not prevent our Bucks from disappointing in Beijing, almost as if the effects of the 2007-08 season were lingering like a bad hangover.
How deep does this thing go? One of those players, Yi Jianlian, is no longer a Buck, yet even a trade with New Jersey couldn’t stop our 2007 draft pick from disappointing. He had a terrible opener against Team USA; the proud debut for the host team. There was Yi on NBC live, going scoreless in the first half, eventually being yanked from the game in the 2nd quarter after an unsportsmanlike foul. Yi did come out in the second half after the game was over and score nine points in garbage time, but that didn’t stop ESPN’s Chris Sheridan from devoting an entire column to Yi’s lousy play. Sheridan was brutal. Yi did have his moment: A key 18-foot jumper against Germany that helped send China into the quarterfinals. But he was a noshow in China’s quarterfinal loss to Lithuania. The rookie wall, it seems, is made of granite. Disappointing.
Bucks centerAndrew Bogut had the best Olympics of any Buck, but that ought to tell you how deeply ingrained in the Bucks this disappointment factor is. Bogut’s Olympics was an ordeal — marred by injury and a start in which he shot only three times as Australia looked like a rec league team unsure whether or not they were in the right gym. The Aussie coach fumbled about for a couple of games and finally found his rotation in game four to salvage the Australia tournament — but in Australia’s biggest game in eight years against Team Redeem in quarterfinals, Bogut found foul trouble, more playing time problems and a second ankle injury.
Bogut did defy the Bucks jinx and dominate against Russia and Lithuania to lead Australia to the Team USA matchup – which had to make you wonder what was going on with the Autralian team. The Australian professional league is dying from lack of interest. This national team was the last hurrah for a few veteran NBL players. The coach, Brian Goorjian has been a long time NBL coach. We may never know what was going on with the team — but did you know that in six games Bogut played less than half the available minutes?He averaged 19.7 mins per game. Out of 40. Unbelievable. Disappointing..
Michael Redd? Can Bucks fans remember back on this: When was the last time Michael Redd was not disappointing? Were there a couple of games last year in which he led the Bucks to victory? He did beat Cleveland with a buzzer beater in February. That much I recall. It was his first walk-off gamewinner ever. Perhaps it was last summer when the USA Senior Men’s team qualified for the Olympics by winning the Pan An games. Redd scored 14 pts a game in that tournament. Or maybe earlier this summer when the USA basketball cancelled its tryouts and Redd officially made the team. When the team got to Beijing, however, Redd’s role on the team eventually whittled down to nothing.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Redd was intended to be the team’s designated three-point specialist, the gunner brought on to rain highlight film jump shots to bust teams out of zone defenses. Redd began the Olympics generally receiving stints in the second quarter and the fourth. His first run, however, came up empty. He entered the game and instantly began looking for his offense, drawing a foul, missing a shot, missing another one. Coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled him from the game after 2 mins, 42 seconds. Later on in the 4th quarter it was almost sad watching Redd and Yi trade baskets after the game was decided. Sad and futile and familiar. Redd would finish the game with nine points on 3-9 shooting, three garbage time three pointers, one with 29 seconds left.
Redd would hit seven more shots over the next five games, but miss 15 and close his Olympics 10-31 from the field, 5-18 on three-pointers (27.7% rate from behind a line more than three feet closer to the hoop than the NBA’s). Bogut, believe it or not, tied Redd with five three-pointers for the Olympics, making 5/8. Who knew he could shoot from 21 feet?
But the shooting specialist, Redd, couldn’t find his shot. By the medal games, Redd was reduced to fourth quarter minutes only. He played 5:40 against Argentina and the final 26 seconds of the gold medal game. Only Carlos Boozer played fewer minutes in the Olympics. Here’s a typical Redd note from the games, this one from Aug. 16-17 after Team USA blew out Spain:
* Redd played 12 minutes in the second half, scoring 4 pts on 2-4 shooting (0-1 from downtown). He did not play in the first half, but didn’t try to force any offense during his stint in the 2nd. With all the frenetic defense and fast-paced transition the Redeem Teamers play, they haven’t had much of a role for him.
These things won’t be written about in Bucks country as the gold medals are polished in the sports pages. Why ruin a golden moment when Redd’s the Milwaukee connection to the Redeem Team? But when is Michael Redd going to be part of delivering winning moments on a basketball court? One key play is not a lot to ask, is it? Something, anything for Bucks fan to get excited about would do. Disappointing.
Realgm.com’s fine Bucks forum moderator, PaulPressey25 made a great observation on opening day of Olympic basketball play. After spending Sunday morning watching Redd, Bogut and Yi, he wondered whether their struggles stemmed from playing last season in the losing environment of the Bucks or whether the source of the problem is that, as players, they really aren’t all that good.
I’m sure many Bucks fans who saw those games had similar thoughts. The grace period on delivering excitement this coming season may be very short for the 2008-09 Milwaukee Bucks.
Well that sure was a downer, wasn’t it? But it had to be done. I will say that, having followed Bogut and the Australia Olympic team through the Olympics, things were not as they seemed in the Aussie camp. In the end, Basketball Australia got what they needed out of the Olympics — they made the medal round and found their way to a high profile matchup with the Redeem Team. Bogut went from looking like an almost substandard center in Game 1 to all-world in Game 4 vs. Russia. Very strange stuff. Perhaps the Aussies were just to too much of a team still in transition toward its next generation to have it be any other way. I do hope the Bucks are working to get the clearest possible picture on the medical treatment Bogut received on his ankle (s) during the games.
Remember this guy? That’s Patty Mills, the Aussie guard who dazzled (and turned 20) during the games. He’ll be back at St. Mary’s (Calif.) college this fall, playing Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Gonzaga et al. in the West Coast Conference (WCC). Definitely a player to watch in the NCAA this season and a hot topic all over the college and draft boards after Beijing. In fact, he’s already been mock-drafted #14 in 2009 at Draft-Express.com! The draft junkies may may get the DTs over it, but why don’t we play some basketball first before we have another draft?
Mills was one of a quite a few players who opened a few scouting windows during the Olympics, and some of them may be worth taking a look at, even in an immediate or short term context with the Bucks … hypothetically. But there’ll be time for that in a later post. Now, in the interest of ending this post on a positive, upbeat note, here’s some more fun Luke Ridnour video.
No, Luke, no – too serious …
And don’t bother getting up, dude. Look for Luke at #4 on this Top 10 …