Earlier Wednesday afternoon, current Milwaukee Bucks owner Senator Herb Kohl made waves around the country by announcing an agreement with Wesley Edens and Marc Larsy to purchase his basketball franchise for $550 million. It made lead stories, breaking news, and trending topics across the globe.
With all of the recent news surrounding the day, it shifted away from the fact the Milwaukee played their regular-season finale against the Atlanta Hawks at 7pm, and that even Kevin Vanderkolk – who played the team’s mascot Bango for the last 13 years – also worked his last game for the team.
With all of the historic distractions, it wasn’t easy for the Bucks to focus and keep their eyes on the game.
“I would like to think that their concentration was there,” Coach Drew said in his last post-game press conference of the season. “But I think I would be lying if I said that it was. This was a big day with all that happened. I’m sure for some of these guys it is new to them in terms of the team being sold and new ownership coming in.”
After scoring a season-high 39 points in the first quarter, the Bucks held a 63-58 lead at halftime. Atlanta’s late second quarter serge continued in the second half as they pulled themselves back into the game. Eventually pulling away late and giving themselves a win by the final score of 111-103 as they now get set to take on the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think all of those things just weighed in today, I just wanted those guys to just play, and play hard.” Drew said. “We’ve had stretches; we just haven’t been able to consistently keep it that way. We were able to do it for three quarters and then it just fell apart at the end.”
Milwaukee once held a 14-point lead in the game, but the Hawks went on to give the Bucks their 67th loss of the season – the most an NBA team has recorded in a regular season since 2009-10. Things obviously didn’t work out as planned for Larry Drew in his first season, but he says there wasn’t one thing specifically that went to show for why things got sour.
“I think it was a combination of things. I think maturity had something to do with it, the strength, athleticism, all of those things factors in.” Drew said. “Particularly during the latter part of the game when the game gets more physical, when it slows down, when it becomes a half-court game,”
Drew’s team has been plagued by injuries all season long. From Larry Sanders’ bar fight incident, to Carlos Delfino not even taking a step on the floor at all. The vision he had for this year’s team was never there.
“As a coach you need to improvise when those type of things do happen. It started off with the Carlos Delfino situation, we had situations with Larry. We dealt with injuries all season long. Guys were out of position and our young guys had to play right away. We tried to improvise with what we had.”
After a historically bad first season as coach, Drew says he will now be able to recharge and take a step back for a moment.
He will need it.