The Milwaukee Bucks are hard at work preparing to restart their 2019-20 season in Orlando. But will their pre-game wrestling routine follow along with them?
Routine is a word that has been bandied about regularly around the Milwaukee Bucks in recent weeks.
It’s been over four months since the Bucks and the rest of the NBA have played an official game, but the league’s return to action has seen the Bucks and 21 other NBA teams get back into the groove down in Orlando to restart the 2019-20 season.
While the Bucks once couldn’t have imagined restarting their dream season under these kind of surreal circumstances, the team is attempting to make Walt Disney World their home away from home.
That’s especially relevant given that they aspire to be the last one standing when all is said and done and their hunger to win an NBA championship this season still remains after such a long break in between games.
But when it comes to one routine in particular, all Bucks fans will be wondering what will become of the team’s pre-game wrestling antics that had been a staple throughout marvelous regular season campaign.
A tradition that originates back to when Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews were teammates with one another with the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in their respective careers, the Bucks have obviously taken that exercise and ran with it this season.
Of those who had championed the bit, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with his brother Thanasis, had been regulars in the routine from its infancy as Matthews talked about with ESPN’s Eric Woodyard earlier this year:
“Honestly, it’s just kind of evolved with Giannis getting in on that and guys getting in on that,” Matthews said. “It just kind of gets you loose before you get ready to go to battle.”
As the season progressed, the antics and wrestling stunts only grew with mascots of opposing teams getting involved as well, and it certainly caught the attention of some prominent wrestling figures, such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
All along the way, Bucks fans became glued to how the players could top or take their routine further, just as the Bucks were writing their league-leading 53-12 record before the season was suspended in early March.
Just as the hiatus brought down the Bucks’ season, so did the team’s pre-game wrestling scrums and it left Lopez, in particular, longing to play his role as the team’s heel as he told the following to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel back in early May:
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up at night with such a sense of melancholy, wistfully wishing that I would have some kind of human contact, whether it be an elbow to the face, a fist to the stomach, a fist to the gut, just some kind of human contact with one of my teammates,” Lopez said.”
Now, though, the Bucks’ season will soon restart and that will effectively start this Thursday when the Bucks play the first of their three scrimmages before opening back up their season on July 31 against the Boston Celtics. Whether the team’s pre-game wrestling routine will follow suit has not yet been addressed by the participating parties, though it’s clear more significant matters are on the minds of all Bucks players and officials going into the restart.
While the league is addressing rearranging the court in light of their protocols for the pandemic, the arenas that the Bucks and all 21 other teams will offer the same tunnels and hallways that became the backdrop to their many fake brawls over the 2019-20 season.
And knowing what we know of this Bucks team and it’s many routine-oriented stars such as Antetokounmpo, maintaining that pre-game wrestling schtick may be the perfect avenue to reignite the camaraderie that was very evident from the squad all year.
All throughout the season, the Bucks have been ring chasing, especially in light of their collapse in the Conference Finals last year. It turns out they’ve entered the ring multiple times to pass the time as they aspire to reach the ultimate pinnacle the NBA has to offer. Time will tell whether the Bucks will hold that title belt at the end.