Milwaukee Bucks: 3 similarities between 1971 and 2021 title-winning teams

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 20: (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 20: (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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Jul 14, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Jul 14, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

More than fifty years apart from one another, the Milwaukee Bucks now stand as two-time NBA champions.

That’s obviously thanks to this 2020-21 Bucks team delivering another title to the organization and the city of Milwaukee following their 105-98 Game 6 victory over the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

More from Bucks History

The stars certainly aligned for the Bucks to reach the top of the mountain a half-century after their first championship that was won during the 1970-71 season where they finished with a 66-16 record and swept the Washington Bullets in four games during that season’s NBA Finals.

While the path that both teams took couldn’t have been more different in a lot of ways, both iterations coalesced due to similar circumstances as we’ll about to dive into.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the three biggest similarities shared by the Milwaukee Bucks’ title-winning teams.

The Milwaukee Bucks’ title-winning teams both made big, impactful additions the prior offseason

There isn’t any titles won in Milwaukee without the Bucks making high-profile additions after going through playoff heartbreak.

The arrival of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the spring of 1969 immediately set the foundation for success and catapulted them to a 29-win turnaround from their expansion season to their 56-win season in 1969-70. However, the Bucks fell short to in the playoffs as they eventually ran into that year’s NBA champions, the New York Knicks, in the Eastern Conference Finals and lost in five games.

Immediately after falling to the Knicks, exactly a day after as a matter of fact, the Bucks arranged for their superstar reinforcement that set the stage for their historic run in 1970-71. The Bucks traded for veteran guard Oscar Robertson, who immediately supercharged the Bucks and gave them the superb floor general and all-around presence they needed alongside Abdul-Jabbar and perimeter players such as Bob Dandridge, Jon McGlocklin and so on.

More than 50 years later, the Bucks made an even bigger bet to bring them towards the promiseland.

They had raced towards the top of the league in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the first two years under head coach Mike Budenholzer, yet playoff success eluded them. While it came about under circumstances beyond their control, the bubble the NBA needed to finish out the 19-20 season did no favors for the Bucks as they were eventually humiliated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

With the future of Giannis Antetokounmpo on the minds of many as speculation mounted towards his supermax extension, which he later signed, the Bucks still felt a sense of urgency to improve their roster. Enter a similar veteran guard, this time being Jrue Holiday.

While both Holiday and Robertson differ in their respective skill sets and specialties, they both served as the catalyst the Bucks needed to complete their identities to their respective Bucks teams.

For Robertson, the Hall of Fame guard earned the lone ring of his illustrious 14-year career while in Milwaukee and while his best was behind him upon arriving, he still stepped up to the moment to help deliver the Bucks their first title. The same can be said for Holiday, who arrived to Milwaukee looking for a championship-caliber team and obviously went further than he had ever went before by a wide margin before earning his first title of his career.

Without the Bucks making the big trades for both Robertson and now Holiday, they wouldn’t be enjoying these kind of moments and experiences.