Day and The Night
Oh Man. Milwaukee. Damn.
The day was March 15, 1995 and two human beings 185.2 miles apart – both of them located just a bit below Milwaukee on the map – had significant evenings in the course of Milwaukee Bucks history.
The first was a young man by the name of Todd Fitzgerald Day.
Mr. Day had been drafted three years earlier with the #8 overall pick by the Bucks in the 1992 NBA Draft, to the chagrin of at least one person.
He was a McDonald's All-American and a prodigious collegiate scorer (we are talking, 22.7 per game as a senior) at a big program, when Arkansas was a big program.
On this night, he was about to score arguably the best game of his pro career excluding NBA Jam, he was about to score 34 points, and soon he was about to finish his last full season with the Bucks. A full season full of 82 games.
It was his Day, obviously...all of that. But it wasn't Milwaukee's night, it rarely was, as people who grew up watching those late green-on-green jerseys know. Reggie Miller went for 40 points on all of 12 shots, and the Bucks fell to 24-40 on the season… a season when baseball players were on strike and the Bucks had the city all to their own, could have had the city all to their own.
Less than a month into the next season, Day was unceremoniously traded, the details are not important, and he was out of the league five years later.
When Day was drafted by the Bucks back in 1992, cameras picked up his reaction. The footage was not broadcast until years and years later, but it was a reaction of disappointment. "Oh man. Milwaukee. Damn."
On the same day that Day scored his Bucks-best 34 points in Indianapolis on March 15, 1995...someone smaller who grew somewhat bigger was born.
They called him Jabari Ali Parker.
Parker went on to become a McDonald's All-American at Simeon High School in Chicago. Sports Illustrated dubbed Parker "The Best High School Basketball Player Since LeBron James" in a cover story. Before that, he scrimmaged as a fifth-grader with Derrick Rose when Rose was on the way to leading Parker's future high school team to state titles.
In the days leading up to the draft, Parker dropped some increasingly forward hints that the Bucks were interested in him, that he was interested in the Bucks.
Two days before the draft, Parker predicted that he would be picked by the Bucks at #2.
Tweets like this happened: "Jabari Parker says he believes he will go No. 2 to Bucks and there is mutual interest. Says he hasn't received similar vibe from Cavs."
Parker joins what new co-owner Marc Lasry fondly has called the best U-23 team in the NBA. Parker, 19. Antetokounmpo, 19. Henson, 23. Middleton, 22. Knight, 22. And so on.
After the Bucks made him the #2 pick, Parker offered some bold words, and not necessarily surprising words, considering the emotion of draft night swirling around him. But they felt genuine, particularly based on his words before the draft.
Parker – one of the most hyped NBA prospects of the past 10 years – said after he was drafted that he wants to be a "throwback player" and to stay with the same team his entire career.
That team is the Milwaukee Bucks.
And so now we have a new meaning, a new intonation, a new optimism, when we say:
Oh man. Milwaukee. Damn.