The National Basketball Association, informally known as the NBA, has featured lots of fascinating teams and players over the years. Most people know about the Milwaukee Bucks because they won the championship in 2021. But many of the team’s current fans are not familiar with the team’s rich basketball history.
The Milwaukee Bucks started as an expansion franchise in 1968. Like most first-year teams, they were not very good. Then, in 1969, the team drafted a player named Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Kareem went on to average 28.8 points per game, 4.1 assists, 14.5 rebounds and 5 steals per game during his rookie season.
Kareem played college ball at UCLA and was known for his toughness and confidence on the court. Matched with several other talented young players, Kareem would lead the Bucks to the championship in only his second year with the team. It was only the third year in the league for the young Milwaukee Bucks.
During 1970-71 regular season, Kareem led the team in scoring, averaged 31.7 points per game, was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, and would lead Milwaukee to the NBA promised land.
The Milwaukee Bucks were having some difficulties in the guard area, so they needed a new player that could playmake and handle the ball well. So, the Bucks made a big trade for Oscar Robinson also known as the Big O – a 6’5 lengthy guard, who became a special player in the hearts of Wisconsin fans. Robertson had averaged 25.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game in his 10 years with the Cincinnati Royals. He had made the All-star team every year since he was drafted and won the Most Valuable Player award in 1964.
Kareem and Oscar would lead the Bucks to a championship in 1971. They swept Baltimore Bullets four games to one in the NBA finals.
The Milwaukee Bucks featured other big contributors in the 1970-71 season. The Bucks acquired Jon McGlockin, a sharpshooter and incredible outside shooter who would rack up about 10.8 points per game. The Bucks next acquired Greg Smith and Bob Dandridge. Both forwards were skilled offensive players and would help make the Milwaukee Bucks one of the best offenses in the league during the 1970-71 season.
The Milwaukee Bucks became a powerhouse in the early 70’s. After this dominance, the Milwaukee Bucks would remain a contender in the NBA for more than a decade. The team made another finals appearance in 1974 but would not win another championship until 2021.
In 2021, the Bucks faced off against the Phoenix Suns in a thrilling NBA finals series. The Bucks won the series 4-2 with Giannis Antetokoumpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday leading the team to a championship.
There is a lot of history behind the Milwaukee Bucks organization and many outstanding players have played for the team. Now, as the Bucks strive to win back-to-back championships in 2022, it’s good to remember the team’s history. The Milwaukee Bucks of 1971 will go down in history as one of the best teams in the history of the NBA.
[Sources: Wisconsin Historical Society; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]