Oh, does it feel good to be back.
It may be different in Milwaukee, but right now in Los Angeles we need something -- anything -- to get away from the heat. Early autumn is always the most insufferable time of year in Los Angeles -- late Saturday morning brunch lines excepted -- because it is too dang hot. Every day reaches the mid-80's and most of them feel hotter. I can't take it. I want to be reminded of anything -- air-conditioned gyms, February walks down Highland towards the Bradley Center, Jabari Parker's three-point shooting -- that will make me think of COLD right about now.
And -- with that unprovoked jab at Jabari -- the penny drops (to quote THE BEST "Mission Impossible" movie, which is the first one starring Tom Cruise). Yes, #BucksForest inhabitants, it's true. I am down on Jabari. I am down on MCW, I am down on Khris Middleton and I am down on just about anything Bucks-related (aside from Monroe's passing, Coach Kidd's coaching and Greek Freak's anything). Welcome to the 2016 Bucks, Hater's Edition. I expect it to be a long year.
For those of you who are Bucks optimists (and, judging by Twitter and the rest of the web, that appears to be all of you), fear not: I am wrong often, especially when it comes to the Bucks. I loved trading Ray Allen for GP (still do; Ray Allen ran Big Dog out of town), I loved drafting Bogut number one (which I continue to defend to this day), I loved signing Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons & Charlie Bell and I loved drafting Yi Jianlian. Aside from firing Terry Stotts, I loved just about every move made during the most disastrous era in Bucks history, the Larry Harris era. So, take my pessimism with a grain of salt (or, recall that I predicted that the Bucks' 2015 season would completely fall apart after the Brandon Knight trade and join me in fearing that this thing could get ugly).
Whether you believe -- as some prominent NBA writers do (sub req'd) -- that the Bucks will soar or whether you believe -- as I do -- that 2016's loss total will come closer to 2014's (67, for those who are new here) than anyone in the NBA media believes, #BucksForest will have content for you. Some days may see lots of content and some days may see just a blurb (and, I'll be honest, some days I'll get lazy and there will be nothing), but overall this blog will produce. I thank all of you for reading.
Bucks media day was today, which marks something of an unofficial kickoff for the NBA season. For those who are fluent in bullshit, the big news of the day was OJ Mayo skipping the event.
Oh, I'm sorry. My mistake. OJ Mayo had a "family situation". That's why he was excused from media day.
Oh-kee-doh-kee, let's think about this one. We have a coach who -- as much as I love him as a coach -- has a loooooong history of feeling A-OK about lying to the media. We have a player who -- although he is a USC Trojan and Trojans can do no wrong in my book -- more or less quit on the Bucks during the 2014 season because he disagreed with how he was being used by the team. Hmm. Provocative.
"But Ben," you say, "if OJ were to just skip media day there must be some kind of reason. He wouldn't make himself look bad entering the last year of his contract."
True. Good point.
But, consider these counterpoints:
-All of the veterans who drove the Bucks' surprising play a year ago are gone, save
Zaza and Bayless. (Ed. note: Sorry. I forgot that the Bucks shipped Zaza to Dallas.)
-OJ has almost no chance of starting now that Khris Middleton got his huge contract.
-Khris Middleton will be making 75% more money per season, with four additional years on his deal.
-OJ Mayo is a better basketball player than Khris Middleton.
Some basketball players would respond to these circumstances by playing really hard in an effort to get one last big contract in summer of 2016. Other players would pout their way through a lackluster season, figuring that they're not going to be given a chance to prove that they are worthy of a big free agent contract. Which of those two types of players sounds more like OJ?
Hopefully, it's nothing. Hopefully, OJ kills it this season and nobody even remembers that he missed media day.