MILWAUKEE — As the Milwaukee Bucks continue to chase a championship, we are taking a look back in time to share how the team’s nickname came to be.
Prior to the Bucks, there were three professional basketball teams in Milwaukee that all came and went, but when the NBA returned to the city in 1968, the team’s owners wanted the fresh start to come with a fitting name.
It’s a little known piece of team history that leaves even the biggest Bucks fans scratching their heads.
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TMJ4 News posed this question to several fans in the Deer District: “Do you know how the Milwaukee Bucks got their nickname?
“No, I don’t,” Ken Sutton replied.
“I have no clue,” said Mac O’Halloran.
“Well, it's in Wisconsin and there's a lot of them around,” said Pat Bloczynski.
Gary Will said he wondered for decades, and decided to do some research to find out why.
“It's when they were an expansion team and the team put out a contest for the name, and the Bucks I believe were the most popular choice,” Will said.
The ‘Original Voice of the Bucks,' Eddie Doucette, said the owners wanted to get the fan base involved in the decision. The statewide contest drew around 14,000 submissions.
"Right at the top there was the skunks and I said, ‘you know, this stinks, I don't think we need this,’” Doucette recalled.
Doucette was thankful ‘the skunks’ never made it past the panel of judges, just like the beavers, badgers, stags and stallions to name a few. But something clicked when 45 people suggested ‘the Bucks’. Doucette said the one and only winner had to be decided by who gave the best reasons why.
"He suggested that the bucks were fast, they were good jumpers, they were accurate - all are things that would lend to having a very athletic and a good team,” he said.
That man was a Whitefish Bay resident who wound up winning the contest and a brand new car. Doucette said the runners-up were awarded a pair of tickets to the opening game.
“The one I got a kick out of was the second place winner, the lady who came in second place stated her reason was that she thought the Bucks would bring a lot of dough to Milwaukee,” Doucette said. “I thought that was pretty clever."
While several NBA teams changed cities and names over the years, the Milwaukee Bucks have stood the test of time.
“I’m glad we chose the Bucks,” Will said. “I think that was the most appropriate choice. I think it just fits our city, in fits the state of Wisconsin and I think it's just a classic."
A classic with a connection to Wisconsin that’s become a household name across the world.