One team is one win away from winning the NBA Finals, an achievement 50 years in the making.
How Milwaukee got there almost defies logic.
Who knew that Giannis Antetokounmpo, picked 15th in a 2013 draft class that was repeatedly — and wrongly — called “weak”, would become one of the greatest forces of his generation? Who knew that Khris Middleton, a second-round pick thrown into the Brandon Jennings/Brandon Knight trade would become a stone-cold closer? Who knew that Jrue Holiday would possess the playmaking chops that the Bucks hoped they would be getting in Bogdan Bogdanovic and validate the monstrous trade package Milwaukee sent to New Orleans for his services?
It requires a perfect storm of factors to build a championship team. The Bucks aren’t there yet, but if they close this out on Tuesday or Thursday, it will be the culmination of an unlikely confluence of events dating back half a century.
Five years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers did a similar same thing, winning a historic title of their own, the first in the franchise’s 46 years of existence. Our friends at Secret Base made a Rewinder about everything that led the Cavaliers to that point, and it’s really not as simple as just having LeBron James. As Marcus Morris Sr. said during his final media availability this season, James doesn’t win every year. Secret Base’s film “Chosen” examines nearly 50 years of decision-making that put Cleveland in position to win, and it’s a wonderful watch even for non-Cavs fans.
As a Clipper fan, there’s a lot to relate to. Years of organizational malpractice, and an embarrassing owner who adds insult to injury. Lottery luck that gets wasted. But then a homegrown superstar who learns how to win elsewhere and then comes home to deliver his city a title. Complementary stars who finally find the right fit. And the golden touch of Ty Lue at the helm, pushing the right buttons to get the team past the finish line.
Maybe it will be that recipe that yields the Clippers their first title, and maybe it will be an entirely new team that gets the job done. Until then, it’s fascinating to see all that goes into making a title team.
More news for Monday:
- Brew Hoop has the goods on how the Bucks won Game 5 in Phoenix. Will Milwaukee close out the series Tuesday?
- One of the Bucks’ problems persisted in Game 5 — Giannis Antetokounmpo’s poor free-throw shooting. Scott Cacciola sought out a local expert’s advice.
- The NBA is keeping the play-in tournament for the 2021-22 season. The majority of two-way contract rules will also stay in place.
- Here’s a list of the 15 players who have been invited to the green room for the NBA Draft. As a reminder, the Clippers pick 25th.
- Team USA bounced back with exhibition wins for both the men and the women this weekend. Those were the last practice games before heading to Tokyo.