This blog will chronicle my attempt to visit all 30 NBA Arenas during the 2007-08 season.

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Contact info: Drew Cieszynski 2637 N. Frederick Ave. Apt# 106 Milwaukee, WI 53211 / 717.676.9963 / acieszyn@hotmail.com

Click below on "2007" to view the first 13 arenas.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Milwaukee Bucks (#30)

Hey thanks for checking back on my blog! It's been a few weeks since I've updated as I've been trying to catch up on my financial situation, my job, and most importantly ... rest.

Tonight in an effort to get back on track financially, I signed a lease for a new apartment that will have zero amenities, but hopefully save me over $250 a month - building towards the next "tour."

Check back in July and August as I've going to post a "reflection," which should contain some good insight. I've held back heavily during this blog so that children could go through it and in hopes that I'd be semi-tasteful in case the NBA actually wanted to notice me. Possibly more importantly however, could be my NBA FINALS post.

Now, for the final arena...my new home...The Milwaukee Bucks.

So here it was, April 12 in Milwaukee and surprise, surprise...it was snowing. Now sit back and think about this for a minute. During my travels, coupled with my full time job, my biggest obstacle was the weather. Milwaukee recorded its 2nd-worst winter of all time! Remember I had nine round trip flights and 6 big roadtrips leaving from Milwaukee (Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Cleveland, & Indianapolis all encountering weather problems. Yet outside of a $1,000 accident on my shortest trip, Chicago, I did not get into any fender-benders or have any flight delays/cancellations. Milwaukee's General Mitchell airport had more delays and cancellations than ever before.

This day however, would be easy travels as I only live a few blocks from the Bradley Center. With me for this final game would be Scott Bellmyer as he collaborated on many of my tactics to get this accomplished and more importantly, made my job a lot easier whenever I returned from my trips.

The Bradley Center has one of my favorite locations in all of the league. Within approximately 3 blocks east of the arena is probably over 20 watering holes to stop at before or after the game.

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Regardless of which side that you enter the arena, you'll enter through one of the two large atriums where you'll see a variety of activities that range from live bands to local radio talkshows being broadcast live.

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Just like every other arena, I had no idea what the Bucks had in store or where I would be seated. I quickly found that I would be seated in the Midwest Airlines seats, located courtside opposite the Bucks' bench. If you're not familiar with Midwest Airlines, you may not want to waste your time getting to know them as they'll likely be purchased by a competitor in the near future. The most characteristic thing about the Milwaukee-based airline however, is the "baked-on-board" chocolate chip cookies. Scott and I were entitled to one cookie each...

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Now many of you know that my favorite part of the NBA game is the player introductions. I don't care what David Stern says about them, I think they really get the adrenaline going and I always dreamed of being introduced in front of thousands of people.

Well I found out that today, I would be a part of the player introductions! I would be riding out on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle after all of the players were introduced. One the Bucks starting lineup was announced, the sounds of a Harley engine came from one of the tunnels and the public address announcer told the over 14,000 in attendance about my journey that started in Salt Lake City on November 3rd and would conclude on this very evening as I rode out w/ Bango, the Bucks mascot.
I still have to bother the Bucks staff a few more times for video of this, but check out some still shots below:

Raising my hands to the roar of the crowd

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After Crossing the FINISH LINE

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The thumbs-up from Bango & being escorted away from an Energee Dance Team member (I must add at this point, I had no idea what was going on, I was so blown-away by everything)!

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Crossing the finish line (this picture and the one below are compliments of Getty Images).

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Finally, what I call the million dollar photo. Check me out on the bike on the court as well as on the Scoreboard...

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Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the Bucks gave me 30 free tickets to utilize for friends for this final night. Unfortunately, they weren't as lucky as I was (they are the ones up top in section 429).

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Their view...

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But luckily, they had HOOPS HEAVEN outside their section.

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You're just plain crazy if you come to visit a Milwaukee sporting event and don't try a Bratwurst. Heck, I even had a Brat Burger too. As far as brands go, I'd recommend Usinger's or a Klements. No I'm not receiving advertising money, but I literally ate a brat for lunch 4 days a week when I moved up here, so I've gained a taste for the best.

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There's no doubt that the Bradley Center is aging. It's now tied for the 5th oldest in the league, opened in 1988. Some of the older ones such as Madison Square Garden & The Palace of Auburn Hills are doing just fine. The Bradley Center however hasn't been making the necessary renovations that other arenas have. This is evidenced by the "big-screen" television shown below...

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Now after seeing the Comcast Lounge at the Toyota Center, the Internet access at the United Center, and some of the Fed-Ex screens in the concourse of the Fed Ex Forum, this is just unacceptable. This looks like the television my Dad picked up at a public auction 10 years ago.

The scoreboard was really outdated also.

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David Stern thinks the Bradley Center will suffice for a few more years. Although the Sonics appears to be headed for Oklahoma City, there still isn't any urgency in Milwaukee to prevent a similar thing from occurring.

They have a liquor lounge, like most other arenas. Here we have a Bacardi theme. But seriously, who drinks liquor in Milwaukee?

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Oh yes, there was a game to be played, highlighed by the return of Devin Harris to Wisconsin.

Andrew Bogut, his facemask, Michael Redd, & Dan Gadruzic get ready for tip-off. Wait, Dan Gadzuric...this reminds me of playing for the Middle School basketball team and when we played the worst team in the league on the last game of the season, the coach said, "Who hasn't started yet this year?" and I raised my hand.

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A lack of genuine club-level seating.

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Bango completes his dunk between the fireballs. Excellent! Luckily, he didn't have the same mishap of Hugo the Hornet did during the Spurs-Hornets series.

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Vinsanity shoots from the outside.

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Bango entertaining once more...

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These t-shirt cannons are getting scary...

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Marcus Williams
shoots over Bucks guard Ramon Sessions.

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Bobby Simmons getting blocked by Stromile Swift.

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New General Manager John Hammond was introduced early in the evening (no, not the guy from Jurassic Park), but the excitement soon ended as both Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson scored over 20 points and handed Milwaukee its sixth straight loss. Nevertheless, the NBA Tour ended at .500, going 15-15 on the season.

My friend Adrienne once again outdid herself with the sign

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So that was it. 30 down. The Bucks staff even put a story about my tour on their website about my final night.

I was sitting a work on Monday when the phone rang. It was Tim Van Vooren of Fox 6 News and he wanted to know if I'd be interested in attending one more game so that they could do a story on the tour. How could I decline more basketball?

This would be Milwaukee's final home game of the season and they would match up against their division rival, the Chicago Bulls.

The evening started off with a select group of season ticket holders standing on the court for the player intros and eventually the players came over to them to sign some autographs. Michael Redd then took the microphone and promised Bucks fans a better season next year (if he's even around).

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Now that I was purchasing tickets, my view wasn't as good as it had been all season.

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The 400 level lounge called "NUMBERS"

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The Bradley Center did have more banners in the rafters than most other arenas, however few have been recent and many come from Marquette basketball, who also play their home games at the Bradley Center.

A Kohl's blimp with Bango riding atop.

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I attended the Bradley Center one other time during 2008, for the McDonald's All-American Game. The arena looked as it did any other time, with one small difference...the big circle in the middle. Yes, that Ronald in the middle.

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We got to see Brandon Jennings and many other up-and-coming stars.

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Even some wild gymnatics at halftime.

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So that was it...I was more relieved than anything. The stress from the weather, contacting jaded front office staff, trying to juggle work and travel, updating my blog...it had all burnt me out. I will reflect more on my conclusions in my final post, yet to come.

Thanks to Lori Warzak, Mike Schneiders, Jim Paschke, Matt Wessel, Scott Bellmyer, Mary Lawyer, Kasey Boudah, Wes Givens, Sarah Ferrance, Maryann Deason, Richard Carter, and all the others who helped/came along to my final game.

2 comments:

Charlie Fu said...

Great to see you had such great success (mostly) for the season!

Anonymous said...

It's good to see you are finally complete! Sorry you will have to be a normal person for a bit while you save $ for the next passion. Hope it doesn't get you too down. Being a grown-up sucks. Hold your memories close to you - they are the most important part of life. They keep us going and striving for better memories in the future.

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