Bucks Pen Open Letter to 'First Take' Defending City of Milwaukee
By Liam McKeone
Much ado has been made about the fact that three of the final four teams remaining in the NBA playoffs are "small market" teams. The Milwaukee Bucks took down the Brooklyn Nets, the Atlanta Hawks edged out the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Phoenix Suns eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. On a broad scale, many are sounding the alarm in the ratings department because casual basketball fans have been less inclined in recent history to tune in when LeBron James or Kevin Durant or Steph Curry are not on the court.
On a significantly smaller scale of importance, it also means that everyone covering the games will mostly be in places like Wisconsin or Arizona instead of, say, Miami or New York. The First Take crew brewed up a storm when commenting on that matter yesterday; Molly Querim Rose said on-air that the final four teams are all from "terrible cities" with the implication that it will be drag for Stephen A. Smith and Co. to stay there for days at a time.
Ignoring the fact that the Clippers are from Los Angeles and I doubt anyone on the screen would have an ill word for the nightlife of that city, Milwaukee and Atlanta are both great in the summertime and so is Phoenix as long as you stay within range of an air conditioner. The comments sound like they're coming from people who have never been to these cities.
The Bucks caught wind of this and penned an open letter to Rose and the rest of the crew praising the city and offering to show them around when they do eventually come to town.
This is an exceptionally Midwestern way to deal with this. Kill 'em with kindness, as they say. The bolded segments are a nice passive-aggressive touch that really embodies the spirit of that part of the country.
The whole thing is just dumb. If you can't find something fun to do in a metropolitan city in America in the middle of the summer, that's a you problem. Not every city needs nightclubs open till six in the morning to be enjoyable (although Atlanta also has that!). Furthermore, this exacerbates the larger problem the NBA has, which is that players and teams in cities that aren't in New York or California are basically ignored by the larger basketball-watching population. The First Take team are supposed to be ambassadors for the game at some level. Complaining about having to go to Phoenix (the fifth-most populous city in the US) isn't doing anyone any favors and makes ESPN look bad, given the criticism the network already receives for zeroing in on big-market subjects.
Good of the Bucks to handle it with class, though.