We're Bucked Presents: The Milwaukee Bucks' 1970s FAIL Squad

Picking lousy players from the Bucks core players of the 70s was no small task. The Bucks began the decade with seasons of 56, 66, 63, 60, and 59 wins; then ended it with a roster full of youthful promise. Champagne problems, right? But don’t worry, picking the duds in later decades (I’m looking at you, 1990s) will be like harvesting snowballs in an Alaskan winter — plentiful in every direction.  Until then, here are the scrubs of the 70s:

Center: Kent Benson, 1977-78.  7.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 BPG, 46.5% FG, 65% FT 

Sometimes rookies just can’t help themselves.  Kent Benson came into town with high expectations; the Bucks had drafted him with the first overall selection of the ’77 draft and installed him as a starter. In preparing for his first home game in Milwaukee, Benson spoke about what it would take to defend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when the Lakers came into town the next night. “I’m going to try and push and shove. But how much can I get by with, I don’t know.” Then in the first minute of the game, Kent gave Kareem a quick and furious elbow to the ribs.  Ah, rookies. In retaliation, Kareem sucker-punched Benson, and as a result, both players were taken out of the game — Benson by injury and Abdul-Jabbar by ejection.  Kareem got an early night off and left the arena for the streets of a former home; Benson got a faceful of this. The night epitomized Kent’s tenure in Milwaukee.  He never really did fit in. Injuries plagued him throughout his rookie year. A season and a half later, the Bucks traded him to Detroit (plus a 1st rounder) for Bob Lanier. The trade for Lanier — along with the simultaneous development of a core group of young players — turned the Bucks into overnight contenders.

The Bucks' Curtis Perry, modeling the original Houston Rockets uni.

Forward: Curtis Perry, 1971-72. 7.0 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 38.5% FG, 67% FT. (In a partial season. His numbers with the Rockets were sadder.)

In December 1971, the Bucks — during a title defense — made a trade for the future, sending Greg Smith to Houston for Curtis Perry and the Rockets’ first-round draft pick. On paper, it looked like a great trade, with Perry seemingly equal to Smith and the Rockets sitting second-to-last in the league standings. In actuality, it turned out much worse.  The pick eventually became the #6 overall selection and the Bucks took the immortal Russ Lee.  (Bob McAdoo went #2. Oops. Bob McAdoo was chosen 2nd overall.) While Curtis Perry stepped in and rebounded well, the Bucks fell short in their attempt to defend their title.  Two years later, New Orleans selected Curtis in the expansion draft and promptly traded him to the Suns, where, of course, he developed the offensive game that had eluded him in Milwaukee.

Forward: Dave Meyers, 1975-76.  7.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.3 SPG, 42% FG, 64% FT. Dave Meyers was the second overall draft pick of the 1975 NBA draft. Eventually proven to be a bust, he played only four unremarkable seasons in the NBA. Taken originally by the Lakers, Dave came to Milwaukee from LA in the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trade.  The numbers speak for themselves; it’s not easy to be a 42%-shooting power forward. His haphazard rookie season ended with two errant inbounds passes that handed the Pistons a playoff series victory — their first in 14 years. Meyers should also be nominated for membership in the Reggie Miller Hall of Fame.  Like Miller, both Meyers and his more famous sister (Ann) both attended UCLA, with the sister half having the more decorated collegiate career. (Although, to be fair, he did get two rings.  And that may be the only argument you need, Shawn.)

Guard: Quinn Buckner, 1976-77. 8.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.4 SPG, 43% FG, 54% FT.  

Like Benson, Quinn Buckner came to the Bucks from Indiana University. Together, they had led the Hoosiers to an undefeated season and the 1976 national title.  Buckner came to Milwaukee via the draft and made an immediate impact on both halves of the floor: making sure that neither team scored any points. For as gifted, smart and strong a defender as Buckner was (with great hands, too), he could not shoot a jump shot to save his life — and this fact was displayed most painfully in his rookie season.  Quinn’s lack of shooting touch was matched by his inability to drive into the paint.  So even though he ranks among the top defenders of his era, he makes this list for killing his team just as badly on its own end.  Buckner, who currently serves as a color commentator for Pacers, also sports the ugliest resumé in NBA coaching history.

Swag……... no swag.

Guard: George Thompson, 1974-75. 10.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 44% FG, 79% FT. 

George Thompson was one of those ABA players who unsuccessfully tried to make the jump to the NBA.  After three years in Pittsburgh and two with the Memphis Tams — including a game with an ABA-record 30 free throw attempts — Thompson came to the NBA.  The Bucks acquired him from the Celtics, who still held his rights from drafting him five years earlier.  Milwaukee was coming off an NBA Finals berth the previous May (back when the Finals were held in May!), but with Kareem injured and Oscar retired, the Bucks limped out to a 1-9 start.  Thompson did little to distinguish himself in the Milwaukee’s backcourt as a replacement for the Big O; he lasted only one season before being bumped out of the league.

K L Chouinard is co-editor of We’re Bucked.  Follow him on Twitter here.

Previous stories in this series:  1970s All-Stars

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Tags: Cornell Warner Fred Carter George Thompson Jim Price Kent Benson Quinn Buckner

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