How did the Milwaukee Bucks become the successful franchise they are today? We wouldn’t have cemented our name in history without these top five players.
The Milwaukee Bucks debuted in the league in 1968 and have since won two championship titles. While the history of our beloved team has been rocky in some eras, we couldn’t have found success without the help of various NBA legends. From Lew Alcindor to Michael Redd, these are the top five players to adorn the deer.
Lew Alcindor, later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar following his conversion to Islam, is not only the most accomplished player ever to don the Bucks’ forest green but is also among the top five players in the history of the NBA. Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to the 1971 world championship in only the franchise’s fifth season. This record would stand as the fastest an expansion team won its championship for 30 years until MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks did it in four years. Though he would cement his legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers, it all began here in Milwaukee.
Before the Buck’s first-ever championship title, the Cincinnati Royals traded Oscar Robertson—a monumental mistake they would most likely regret after Milwaukee won the title. While his accomplishments on the court were profound, the “Big O” changed the league forever in 1970 by filing a suit that challenged the NBA merger with the American Basketball Association regarding the league prohibiting free agency. Six years later, a settlement was reached, and the draft remained unscathed, establishing what the modern NBA looks like today. Milwaukee is proud to have fostered a quality player on and off the court.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka the Greek Freak, could arguably be the G.O.A.T. for our Milwaukee Bucks due to his versatility in both offense and defense. Giannis began his career at a mere 19 years old; now 26, with many accolades under his belt, he puts the fear in “Fear the Deer” by intimidating other teams with his physical play style. Behind Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Greek Freak is the third player ever to receive an MVP and defensive player of the year award in the same season. With the success we see in the Deer District today, we can conclude it’s the “House That Giannis Built.”
Most NBA fans associate Don Nelson’s agile, high-scoring style of play with his tenures in Dallas and Oakland, but Nellie Ball first got underway at the MECCA with those great Bucks teams of the ‘80s. The leader of those teams was Sidney Moncrief, whose tenacious defense at the 2-guard allowed the rest of the team to fire at will. Over Moncrief’s 10 seasons in Milwaukee, only two teams won more games: the Lakers and Celtics. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.
The Bucks haven’t always been the toast of the Cream City. From 2000 to 2018, the Bucks only made it out of the first round once—a Cinderella run in 2001 that ran headlong into Allen Iverson’s 76ers. In those dark ages of Milwaukee pro hoops, Michael Redd was the star player of a woebegone franchise. While he may not rank among the all-time greats, his face-of-the-franchise role at a time when the fading state of the Bradley Center put the franchise’s future into doubt places him among the top five players in Milwaukee Bucks history.
If it weren’t for the tenacity and hard work of the previous NBA players, the Bucks franchise wouldn’t be where it is today. From the Bradley Center to the Fiserv Forum, from purple to green, this team has a fanbase like you’ve never seen. It’s easy to see the future this city is building, and we’re sure to welcome more legends soon.