A wave of guilt descends as I write this post. Why? Not because I feel I should be doing something more important than sending typeface to walk across the white space between a photo of cheerleaders and the margin to the left, like waiting for my “economic stimulus” check (still not here) or wondering whether Rasheed Wallace is on the trading block rhyming Beasley-Rose, Rose-Beasley, Beasley-Rose. And no, I’m not even feeling guilty that the Bucks were kind enough to email me a link to a gallery of photos of the Energee! Dance Team cheerleaders two weeks ago and I’m just opening it now. No, no, none of those things.
The guilt stems from having a sea of luscious legs, black poly-leather zipper tops, nothing skirts and high heels on my computer screen only to have my eyes stray to the empty seats above all of that sexiness. It’s not my fault, I know. The eye goes to the empty spaces of a badly-cropped photo. That’s just the way it is. It’s a natural thing. Cinematographers are paid millions so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen even in bad films.
The link to the “Energee! in April” photo gallery was sent by Bucks marketing to the Bucks ticket-info email list as part of a “win lunch with GM John Hammond” draft lottery contest (which I didn’t win). The photo above is from one of the five home games in April, no note on which one. Whichever game it was, my sources tell me that very few people attended. Nobody goes there anymore; there are too many empty seats.
Journal Sentinel reported last week in an interview with NBA Commissioner David Stern that a new arena for the Bucks is not a converstaion that needs to happen now. Soon, but not now, according to Stern. A new arena, however, seems irrelevent when you look at the empty seats behind Energee! Stern mentioned that point too, reminding that the best revenue enhancer is ticket sales.
Stern’s words should be taken as a warning. Look at those barely skirt skirts, all that skin and faux leather. Energee! was performing for no one. So were our Bucks, who, at the end of the 2007-08 season were a franchise on the brink of irrelevency, but for the dance squad.
Owner Herb Kohl has responded by hiring a shrewd basketball guy from the Detroit Pistons franchise, John Hammond, to set things on the right course. Hammond has hired an aggressive coach, Scott Skiles, known for defense, up-tempo ball movement and winning. Hammond and Skiles have played it close to the vest about further changes this summer but the above picture tells a thousand words. The changes will be significant.
Ticket-buying fans are already aware of this, being able to draw conclusions based on what the Bucks marketing offices have been sending. This summer’s come-ons are quite a bit different than those of the past few summers.
Let’s look at the rest of what was sent in that mid-May promo e-mail:
Coach Scott Skiles, the new face of the franchise, is our incentive to buy tickets. I would have used a photo of Andrew Bogut in his nose guard mask to sell tickets, but then I’m a big fan of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and can write at length about how artistically UNPLEASING Rob Zombie’s “House of a Thousand Corpses” movies are. Skiles is the Bucks’ savior, the hope for a better tomorrow and a more interesting today, and I’m down with all that — but I can also tell you with unflagging certainty what his shooting percentage will be before the game starts. I also know that Skiles has never been able to dunk a basketball. The message, here, loud and clear, is that we can expect to see Skiles at the games next year, and that if things go well, he’ll be clapping just as he is in the photo. Don’t, however, expect to see too many of last season’s players on his team.
Why are these girls happy? This is a wholesome picture. The better stuff is in the gallery, but, this is a conscientious choice of photos by Bucks marketers, who seem to understand that a Bucks fan’s wife or girlfriend may at any moment peek over said fan’s shoulder while email is being checked/ogled. “Wholesome” is a word often used to decribe Energee! – and I imagine that bugs Energee! dancers to no end. “Wholesome but may get a little wild after a few drinks” is a description of the Bucks cheerleaders I read in the blogosphere not too long ago. That’s not a compliment.
Number 9, Number 9, Number 9. Yi’s jersey at left is the Bucks featured promo in the merchandising department. At least we know Yi is going to be on the team. But we know more than that. The Bucks have two exhibition games scheduled September in China, where the Bucks commitment to making Yi an NBA star will be on display. It’s important to note who’s jersey is not featured: The Michael Redd era is over, Bucks fans, and there’s no harm in getting used to it now a few weeks before it’s official. 2008-09 will be the year of Yi, development in overdrive. RealGM’ers, stifle those trades for power forwards. Charlie V, start packing your bags if you’re still an all-star in your own mind. Yi Jianlian will be shooting 15-or-so times a game next season. If you’re one of those who still believes that Michael Redd will be around to thwart Yi’s development, scroll back up to the top of this post and take a long, long look, not at the lovesexxy lines of the the brunette’s legs ….
…. but at those empty, empty seats behind her.