Milwaukee Bucks: Imagining a documentary on the Jason Kidd years

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 10: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 10: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 04: (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Why it would make for a great documentary

As the Bucks have become a juggernaut at the top of the NBA standings over the past two years, Milwaukee’s fans have had the luxury of not having to dwell too much on what went before.

Mike Budenholzer and Jon Horst have helped to set the Bucks on their path to legitimate title contention, and with that, for some, it’s likely become easier to simply accept that every great team has a journey, and the rollercoaster ride of the Jason Kidd years was just a part of the Bucks’ own.

That undersells the sheer absurdity of so much that occurred during that span, though. It also glosses over the fact that it’s easy to imagine the Bucks being better, both individually and collectively, if they hadn’t suffered through some of what those seasons became.

By no means was it all bad, but it was certainly all strange.

As an example, let me briefly highlight a collection of six moments, events, and storylines from just 2015-16 that, in an attempt to prevent this from being a 15,000-word article, I haven’t been able to really unpack here:

1. Kidd left the team mid-season to have hip surgery and was absent for over a month, a period which coincided with Middleton’s breakout, and one of the team’s more promising spells of play under assistant coach Joe Prunty.

2. The underwhelming Bucks developed a genuine rivalry with a historic Golden State Warriors squad, ending their 24-game winning streak to start the season, before then getting involved in a post-game skirmish after a hard-fought loss when the teams met again.

3. O.J. Mayo, who was a principal character in the aforementioned altercation, saw his season finish when he fell down the stairs and broke his ankle, before then seeing his NBA career come to an end soon after when he was dismissed and disqualified from the league after testing positive for a drug of abuse.

4. The ever affable John Henson provided one of the most memorable and enduring images of the season, ferociously blocking Matt Barnes’ shot, proceeding to mean mug for the best part of 30 seconds and then getting ejected for a second technical. That led to Barnes checking out of the game, chasing Henson to the Bucks’ locker room, and eventually needing to be escorted out of the Bradley Center by security.

5. Jabari Parker returned from injury only to find himself somewhat usurped in status by both Antetokounmpo and Middleton, and perhaps setting the groundwork for a larger dissatisfaction that eventually led to him leaving as a free agent at the end of his rookie deal.

6. The season was capped off by Justin Zanik being hired as assistant GM, and widely viewed as a GM-in-waiting, in May, at the beginning of an offseason where the Bucks went on to sign countless questionable contracts. Zanik reportedly went on to develop a very close relationship with Kidd, and later find himself bizarrely overlooked in the erratic search process that led to Horst’s appointment as general manager. It likely wasn’t a coincidence that Horst ended up firing Kidd in his first season as GM.

To be clear, these are stories that all came from just one year of Kidd’s time with the Bucks, not the entire tenure.

Hardly believable moments and larger than life characters were a staple of this time in Bucks history, and would make for a thoroughly enthralling, frequently painful, and always amusing snapshot in the form of a documentary series.

If anything, the Kidd era has only been made all the more fascinating by the comparative serenity and success that has accompanied the Bucks in the two years they’ve enjoyed since under Budenholzer.

Today’s Bucks didn’t become what they are because of the trials and tribulations of the Kidd era, but in spite of them.

dark. Next. Imagining a documentary on the early 2000s Bucks

Still, it remains the Bucks origin story for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, and considering they’re both on the right path to becoming franchise legends, it’s undoubtedly a story worth telling.