Now that the Cavaliers won the NBA title last month, Cleveland is no longer the most cursed sports city in America. It was about 150 seasons since they won a title but the way LeBron James and Kyrie Irving brought them back from a 3-1 deficit against the team with the best regular season record was nothing short of amazing.
Therefore, Cleveland is off the list although there are other cities such as San Diego, Philadelphia, and Atlanta that may now qualify for the most cursed sports city. Needless to say, there are many criteria and data that can go into determined the worse pro city for sports. I won’t argue that – the major thrust of my article to argue that Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the most cursed sports city, if not in the U.S. then certainly the Midwest.
One caveat, I will not include the Green Bay Packers as part of the Milwaukee market.
In my mind, the Packers don’t belong to Milwaukee. Some years ago, they competed in Milwaukee for few games but it was purely economics and the organization eventually wanted to bring them back to GB completely. The Packers may be part a Milwaukee team, however, they are more a Wisconsin team. Besides, it’s 120 miles from Milwaukee to Green Bay so I have no issue excluding the Packers from Wisconsin’s largest city.
The Milwaukee Bucks were founded in 1968 as an expansion team. Kareem Abdul Jabber (formerly known as Lew Alcindor) joined in ’69 and a year later, the Big O (Oscar Robertson) joined the team. The Bucks went on to win their first and only NBA championship in 1971. If you were growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin in the 60’s and 70’s, you would have been thrilled that the Bucks not only had a new team, they won an NBA championship in the 3rd year of existence. It’s quite logical for people’s expectations rise so you’re expecting at least 1 or 2 more title before Oscar retires or Kareem gets tired of Milwaukee’s cold winter and limited African-American culture.
Well, it’s July of 2016 and the Bucks have not won another championship. If my math is accurate, Kareem won 1 championship in Milwaukee but 5 with the Los Angeles Lakers. Perhaps the sunny weather helped his disposition. During those years with LA, he would have only visited Milwaukee once each year unless both the Bucks and Lakers squared off in the NBA championship between 1975-89 (which never did occur). Anyway, once leaving the city, I don’t think he ever looked back as he became quite comfortable and content in LA.
If I’m a Buck’s fan in 2016, I’m interested in their team. They have a young nucleus and good coach in Jason Kidd who seems to have the ability to relate to young players. Players such as Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe, Michael Carter-Williams, & John Henson. Perhaps they’ll make the playoffs in 2016-17 and continue to get competitive. However, based on their organization and small market team, they may be exciting and competitive but have little chance of challenging for the title, especially during the next handful of years. If you’re a Bucks fan and need something to do in the metro Milwaukee area to forget about the harsh winters, watching a fun and young club get better may just be what’s needed.
With several teams accumulating all-stars, there are probably no more than 5-6 teams who have a chance at the NBA championship. Is this good for the league? I don’t know. When I look at the impending NFL season, there may be 50% of the teams that may have a legitimate shot to win the Super Bowl or at least compete at the Super Bowl. Same thing with NHL hockey, most of the 16 teams that quality for the playoffs have a legitimate chance to win. Regardless of their seed and not having home ice, crazy and unpredictable things can occur. Baseball is another sport where at least half of the 30 teams have a shot to win. There are some good teams assembled, but no all-star teams like the NBA that will win 80% of their games. Again, I come back, is this good for the game? I don’t know.
The other Milwaukee professional franchise also begins with a B, the Milwaukee Brewers. The former Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee in 1970 and they’ve only had one World Series visit in 1982 but could not defeat the Redbirds from St. Louis. The organization on the Mississippi expects to be there every so often and the Brewers and their fans were happy just to be there. Therefore, in 45 years, the Brewers have not ever won the MLB title. Similar to the Bucks, the Brewers were quite close to a championship in the first 10 years or so of existence in Milwaukee that led to fans’ expectations that they’d be back to the world series but hasn’t worked out that way. At the end of the ’15 season, their win-loss percentage is 48%. In fact, Milwaukee has not seriously challenged a run at the pennant in the 21st century. Pity on those Brewer fans or do they treat Miller Park as Cub fans treat Wrigley Field, one large beer garden?
In summary, the last pro championship in Milwaukee occurred in 1971. Trying to stay grounded, I don’t see either the Bucks or Brewers winning a title in the next 5 years. Certainly not in the next 2 years. Even if the Brewers win a title in 2021, it will have been 100 years of professional sports in Milwaukee between titles. There are very few other U.S. cities with such a poor record of not securing professional championships. No wonder people in Milwaukee drink so much beer!