The Milwaukee Bucks won their first championship faster than any expansion team in pro sports history, but who are their 25 best players of all time?
Here’s a fact you might not have known: No expansion team in the history of major North American sports won a title faster than the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks came into the NBA officially on Jan. 22, 1968, when an expansion franchise was awarded to a group headed by Wesley Pavalon and Marvin Fishman.
It was Milwaukee’s second NBA try, after the Hawks played there for four forgettable seasons in the early 1950s.
The first year was exactly what one would expect from an expansion team—27 wins and a spot in the coin flip for the first overall pick in the draft.
Winning that coin flip produced the right to draft UCLA legend Lew Alcindor—later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—and the Bucks were champions of the NBA in 1971.
They have been back to the Finals just one other time since, losing a seventh game at home to the Boston Celtics in 1974.
Milwaukee had some nice teams in the 1980s, but were a level below the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference, losing in the conference finals three times and being bounced from the postseason by one or the other for seven consecutive years.
The Bucks are 1,983-1,905 in their 48 seasons, a winning percentage of .510 that ranks 14th among the 30 active franchises in the NBA.
They’ve gone to the postseason 28 times, including a club-record 12 years straight from 1980-91. Their longest postseason drought was a seven-year stretch from 1992-98.
The Bucks were sold in 1985 to Milwaukee department store owner Herb Kohl, later a U.S. Senator. He held the team until it was sold to Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for a then-record $550 million in 2014.
The Bucks played at the Milwaukee Arena from their inception in 1968 until moving into the Bradley Center—now known as the BMO Harris Bradley Center—for the 1988-89 season.
Milwaukee has had 10 general managers, with Don Nelson the longest-serving from April 1977 to May 1987.
Current GM John Hammond has been on the job since April 2008 and Wayne Embry had a run of just more than five years from March 1972 to April 1977.
Hammond is the lone recipient for the Bucks of the NBA Executive of the Year award, winning in 2009-10.
Nelson is the franchise’s winningest coach with a record of 540-344 from 1976-87, going 42-46 in the playoffs. Larry Costello, the team’s first coach, was 410-264 from 1968-77 and was 37-23 in the postseason, and George Karl’s clubs were 205-173 from 1999-2003 and were 14-18 in the playoffs.
Behind the Buck Pass
Current coach Jason Kidd is the franchise’s 14th head coach. He took the job in July 2014 and is 74-90 in the regular season and 2-4 in the playoffs.
Nelson is the only Coach of the Year winner in team history, taking the honor in 1982-83 and 1984-85.
Milwaukee has had the No. 1 overall pick four times, twice in the lottery era. Besides taking Abdul-Jabbar in 1969, the Bucks selected Indiana’s Kent Benson in 1977, Glenn Robinson of Purdue in 1994 and Utah’s Andrew Bogut in 2005.
They have had the second, third, fourth and fifth overall picks one time each.
Here are the 25 best players in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks. Players had to have appeared in 150 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list.
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