On January 12th, the San Diego Chargers’ owner Alex Spanos announced that they would no longer be the San Diego Chargers. They would now be known as the Los Angeles Chargers. That’s right; the team that was founded nearly 60 years ago is making the 3 hour drive north to the city that didn’t even want the team they got last year. You may be wondering what all of this has to do with Milwaukee or Wisconsin sports, and that’s fair, but don’t forget that the Bucks were in the same position as the Chargers not even 2 years ago. In July of 2015, these articles from Forbes and Deadspin stated that the window was closing on the Bucks staying in Milwaukee and that a move to Las Vegas or Seattle was on the horizon.
Imagine this scenario, one where Giannis Antetokoumnpo and Jabari Parker aren’t playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. Scary, I know. But the possibility was very real, and it was staring every Bucks fan in the face. The Milwaukee Bucks were almost erased, just like the San Diego Chargers, and the only thing left would be stories. The only thing left would be “Remember that time…?”. I’m a firm believer that the city of the organization is what holds the memories. (I’m looking at you Braves, that 1957 World Series is Milwaukee’s) The Chargers, while they are still called that, are no longer the Chargers. They’re just the other team in Los Angeles. You can put all of the San Diego Chargers’ accomplishments and retired numbers in your new, empty stadium, but they don’t mean anything in Los Angeles. Kellen Winslow didn’t play for Los Angeles. LaDanian Tomlinson didn’t play for Los Angeles and Dan Fouts didn’t play for Los Angeles. All of this makes me think about what it would have meant to me, as a fan, if this happened to the Bucks.
It’s fair to assume that if the Bucks were moved, they would have been moved to Las Vegas or Seattle. Picture that, a beloved 34 in Milwaukee wearing a Sonics jersey.
I know that still hurts to look at, but that was just one player for us. What’s happening in San Diego and now more recently Oakland is on a much larger scale. Fans aren’t the only ones affected by this either, former players hate it as well. In a cruel twist of fate, there is actually a possibility that Oakland may no longer move to Las Vegas and that San Diego would take the Raiders. Kevin Acee for the San Diego Union Tribune tweeted “Asked about San Diego Raiders, @LT_21 (LaDanian Tomlinson) buried head in hands. ‘That would be awful,’ he said.” LT hated the Raiders so much that he cannot bear the idea of the Raiders being in San Diego. Division rivals trading cities. A team that fans young and old have spent their whole lives hating are now the team that represents them? What if the Packers got moved to Chicago so they had two teams and we got the Lions? That’s almost the exact situation fans in San Diego are faced with.
Everything I’ve written about here was the snap of a finger away from happening to our Milwaukee Bucks. The team we’ve loved for so long, is now somewhere out west. What would you do? Would you no longer care about the NBA? Is Seattle or Las Vegas now the squad you support? There’s a lot of logistics that go into moving a team, sometimes it doesn’t make sense for a city to hold on to a team if it’s hemorrhaging money and no one is attending the games. I know that. What about the fans that are attending the games? They deserve a team, they’re loyal. They are the ones that are doing everything in their power to make sure they have a team even when that team isn’t very successful. Having a team, even though they may not be very good, is way better than the alternative. We’re lucky; we had a former owner who made sure this team would stay and we have two new owners that are dedicated to Milwaukee. The new arena is currently being built and as of February 2nd 2017, construction is on time and on budget.
San Diego hasn’t been the most successful franchise in NFL history, but they’ve always mattered. You can go back to the days of the aforementioned Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, and Ladanian Tomlinson up until now with Phillip Rivers and see that. Any chance at future success has been ripped away from every diehard fan in the 619 area code. Anyone that has been a fan of that team for 10, 20, or even 40 years will never get a chance to see their team reach the top, and my heart aches for every single one of them.
While it’s been a while since the Bucks have had sustained success, we’re still a crucial city in the NBA’s history. Some of the most iconic and heartfelt moments in NBA history happened in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is where Giannis drank his first smoothie. It’s where Jabari made a triumphant return from a tragic injury. It’s where Brandon Jennings dropped 55 as a rookie. It’s where Marques Johnson battled Dr. J. It’s where Sid taught everyone what defense looked like. It’s where Lew became Kareem. It’s home. It’s the Bucks home for years to come. More memories are going to be made at the new arena. Those memories are going to last forever because we won’t let them leave. We’re never going to have to ask “Was it all a dream?”