The Milwaukee Bucks had a live bluegrass band play during their starting lineup announcements at some point in the 1993-94 season. This is a fact that has been ingrained in my memory ever since, yet I have not been able to corroborate it in any way through numerous Google searches, Youtube queries, or even direct questions to members of the Bucks blogosphere. Perhaps it was just a figment of my vivid pre-teen imagination, that also produced the likes of a plant store entrepreneur named Tiny who hung out with me in my backyard. Imaginary friends are more understandable than imaginary banjo players at the Bradley Center though.
Whether it was that memory, or my affinity for their bizarre original NBA Jam lineup, or their aesthetically incorrect purple jersey phase, the Bucks have always been a favorite of mine. So when they made a surprise move to get Warriors shooting (point) guard Monta Ellis this year, I was incredibly excited. Despite Brandon Jennings' best efforts since 2009, the Bucks had been tough to watch for even the most obsessive League Pass subscribers (the Luc Mbah A Moute perimeter defense aficionados not withstanding). The trade was roundly criticized on both ends, by Warriors fans for dealing their most exciting player and essentially giving up on the season, and by Bucks fans for wondering how many balls the Jennings/Ellis backcourt would need on offense.
But that backcourt experiment has worked out for Milwaukee, posting a 9-5 record since the trade and making a furious run at the 8th seed that the Knicks will inhabit when the two teams face each other tonight on ESPN. The Bucks are fighting for a playoff spot on national TV in April? The Blue Edwards loyalist in me is thrilled. The die hard Knicks fan who has lived through 5 different seasons in 1 is conflicted. I don't need to recap the journey from D'anpression to Linsanity to Meloncholia to Woodsanity to Linjury for anyone who has remotely followed the NBA this year. Suffice it to say, it's a miracle that the Knicks are even playing a meaningful game tonight. And of course I will be rooting for them to get the win, prevent the Bucks from getting that crucial tiebreaker, and put some distance between them for the last playoff spot. However, I won't be too disheartened if the Bucks can pull it out.
Ideally, the result of the game tonight won't matter and both the Bucks and Knicks sneak ahead of the nosediving 76ers for the last 2 playoff spots. We need Monta Ellis back in the playoffs for the 1st time since the Warriors legendary 2007 run, to bring back some of those frenzied Bay Area memories, because Baron Davis certainly won't be helping us reminisce. For it to come in another city starved for a deep playoff run is the icing on the cheesecake. Those bluegrass musicians that are either alive, dead, or never really existed, want it more than anyone. Since I'm the only one who remembers them, I feel I can speak on their behalf. They are also opening for Lucero on tour this fall. Go Knicks! (Fear the Deer!)