Milwaukee celebrates Bucks NBA championship
Governor declared July 22 “Bucks in Six” Day
MILWAUKEE (AP) - “I know my mom was extremely proud, I know my dad is extremely proud, so I’m happy,” NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo told a crowd of thousands cheering for their Milwaukee Bucks Thursday afternoon.
Nearly 100,000 people packed downtown Milwaukee, lining streets to catch a glimpse of their beloved Bucks in a parade to celebrate the city’s first NBA championship in half a century.
Six police officers on horseback clopped past cheering fans at the head of a procession Thursday that included a hook-and-ladder fire truck, occasionally blaring its horn, and open-air buses and flatbed trucks carrying Bucks stars occasionally hoisting the trophy they won after beating the Phoenix Suns in game 6 of the NBA Finals at home.
The team’s ascendance has invigorated a Midwestern city that is far from the league’s more cosmopolitan venues, like Los Angeles or Boston.
Fan Bob Blessington from Pewaukee said, ”The Packers have had a lot of success, but to see the Bucks clench on in Milwaukee, it’s really special and unique, and the people who have lived here thier whole life time, it’s just - you can’t put it into words. It’s a big deal.”
Fans have embraced Antetokounmpo, who decided to stay with the team that selected him eight years ago with the 15th overall pick in the draft when he was just 18 years old. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who’s been in COVID-19 isolation since the last few games, was also at the event but celebrated from his car near the stage.
“Milwaukee, we did it. We did it. We did it, man. Man, this is our city, this is our city and we did it. Unbelievable,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said to the crowd.
Bucks forward P.J. Tucker shouted to the crowd, “When I got here, they were like, ‘You gotta be the dog!’ And I’m like, we got dogs! Like, they just ain’t! I got here like, we got dogs. They just don’t know how to be dogs, and we gonna be dogs, and our dogs is crazy! We got dogs! You hear me, Milwaukee? We dogs!”
“It’s incredible to coach these guys, every day coming into the building and working the way that they do, the group that embraces some of our mantras. We talk about getting better every day. We talk about playing together. When you do those things you end up on a stage like this,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.
“This has been a long time coming. I have been here for 8 years, just ups and downs, but we finally got the job done for sure,” Bucks guard Khris Middleton said.
It’s a short rest for Middleton and Jrue Holiday, who have to get on a plane for Tokyo right away to suit up for Team USA in the Olympics with Suns guard Devin Booker.
Milwaukee officers on the parade route told us there were about 500 law enforcement officers on duty from Milwaukee and other parts of the state, including Brown and Door counties.
In addition to coaches, players and staff, the parade also featured Bucks alumni, like Brandon Jennings, who coined the famous “Bucks in Six” phrase that became the rallying cry of the playoffs.
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Also on the route was Gov. Tony Evers, who issued a proclamation declaring Thursday, July 22, as “Bucks in Six” Day. Complete text of the governor’s proclamation:
WHEREAS; founded in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks have proudly represented their hometown of Milwaukee and their home state of Wisconsin for more than 50 years in the National Basketball Association (NBA); and
WHEREAS; created as an expansion team alongside the Phoenix Suns, the Bucks quickly found success when—in 1971, now 50 years ago, and with the help of acclaimed superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—they won a conference championship and their first NBA title; and
WHEREAS; in the ensuing five decades, the Bucks won another conference championship in 1974, have made several playoff appearances, and have boasted an impressive roster of exceptional players, hall of famers, and NBA Most Valuable Players, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Dandridge, Oscar Robertson, Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, Terry Cummings, Ray Allen, and, most recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo; and
WHEREAS; Milwaukee nearly lost the Bucks in 2014 when the team considered leaving Wisconsin until former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl sold the team and donated $100 million to support a deal to ensure they would remain in Milwaukee, which became part of a public-private partnership to build the Fiserv Forum and revitalize the surrounding downtown area in Milwaukee, a critical economic driver for our state; and
WHEREAS; in the midst of the unparalleled loss, tragedy, and challenges that surrounded the 2020-21 NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic, basketball fans in Wisconsin, across the United States, and around the world have watched the Bucks—and their charm, humor, eccentricity, resilience, and grit—with admiration, respect, and joy, and on the heels of a difficult year for so many, this team and its players have remained a source of hope, unity, and happiness when it has been needed the most; and
WHEREAS; Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites have watched many of the Bucks grow up and grow together into a championship-caliber team, with many even choosing to stay and make Milwaukee home when given the opportunity to leave; and
WHEREAS; these individuals—including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Bobby Portis, P.J. Tucker, Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Pat Connaughton, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo, Jordan Nwora, Mamadi Diakite, Axel Toupane, Justin Jackson, Sam Merrill, Elijah Bryant, and Bryn Forbes—have not only proved to be extraordinary players on the court and leaders in the NBA, but exceptional and honorable men off the court and in our communities, including using their platform to boycott a playoff game in 2020 and march in the streets of Milwaukee with their neighbors to demand meaningful action and solutions to systemic racism in our state and our country; and
WHEREAS; this year, under the leadership of head coach Mike “Bud” Budenholzer, and following an extraordinary season and post-season run, the Bucks advanced to the NBA Finals for only the third time in their history, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 4-2 in the series to become Eastern Conference Champions; and
WHEREAS; on July 20, 2021, after trailing 2-0 in the series and winning four straight games, the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game Six of the 2021 NBA Finals—earning them their second NBA Championship title in franchise history—in front of more than 17,000 fans at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, more than 100,000 fans in the adjoining Deer District and surrounding area, and 8.5 million viewers nationwide; and
WHEREAS; in clinching the NBA Championship in the sixth game of the series, the Bucks finally fulfilled the prophecy of former Bucks guard, Brandon Jennings, which has become their longtime rallying cry, “Bucks in Six!”; and
WHEREAS; today, the state of Wisconsin and Wisconsinites celebrate the Milwaukee Bucks’ remarkable season and historic win in the 2021 NBA Finals, and wish Bucks players, fans, coaches, and management a safe and enjoyable celebration in recognition of this achievement, these illustrious players, and this incomparable team;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Tony Evers, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do hereby proclaim July 22, 2021, as “BUCKS IN SIX” DAY throughout the State of Wisconsin and I commend this observance to all our state’s residents.
Wisconsin’s U.S. senators, Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, filed a “Bucks in Six” Senate resolution on Thursday, as well. You can read the 4-page resolution here (PDF format).
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