Most of the people who were at the Bradley Center on 11/14/09 will say they were stunned at what they saw that night.
That puts me in the minority.
Like everyone else, I had heard all the skeptics criticize Brandon Jennings' shooting form. They said he couldn't keep defenses honest.
They were either:
d) stubborn or
e) all of the above
When I walked into the Bradley Center that night, I didn't expect to see Brandon Jennings score 55 points in the game.
When I took my seat for the second half, I still didn't expect to see Brandon Jennings score 55 points in the game.
I also didn't expect to see the winningest coach in NBA history (whom I've always admired) either instruct or allow his Golden State Warriors to back off Jennings, go underneath every screen the Bucks set for him and continue giving him open shot after open shot despite the fact that he started knocking so many of them down.
I guess one of the things that put me in the minority was that I had witnessed this type of outburst from Jennings before, back when he was playing for Oak Hill Academy. Someone (maybe it was Coach Norman Dale of Hickory High School) must have explained to him that the rim is 10 feet from the floor and an open jump shot is an open jump shot on virtually every grade school, high school, college and pro basketball court in America, because he was certainly in a comfort zone and kept pulling the trigger without hestitation that night, answering every knock of opportunity.
I felt privileged to witness Brandon's 55.
But I have to be honest. I'd rather see Jennings threaten Ramon Sessions' single-game Bucks assist record -- and Paul Pressey's all-time franchise assist record -- than Michael Redd's single-game scoring mark or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's team-record career point total. If he can do that, then we'll know the Bucks have truly returned to NBA prominence.
Unfortunately, previous engagements prohibited me from watching Brandon Jennings' 55-point outburst level. But when word reached my ear of what Jennings had done, I thanked my lucky stars that I remembered to DVR the game. I ended up watching the game back-to-back times later that night, not hitting the hay until almost 4 a.m. There was no way I was sleeping that night.
Al Czervik, now that's an entrance I envy, err futilely attempt to emulate. Rodney Dangerfield's character in "Caddyshack" pulled off the worlds quickest, yet most succinct Don Rickles impression. He strolled into Bushwood, upbraided everyone in shouting distance and still managed to hit the first tee box in under 10 minutes.
The introverted part of me respects other entrances too, say for example anytime a ROOKIE can drop a double-nickel during the first month of their NBA Career. Those numbers scream confidence, composure and a have-no-fear recklessness to scoring the basket. No set of words can do such a monumental accomplishment any type of justice. Let the numbers speak for themselves. Happy Anniversary on such an accomplishment Brandon. You can get more than a bowl of soup with those numbers. That stat line looks good on you.
I was one of the lucky ones to be at the Bradley Center for Brandon Jennings' 55-point night, but my memories are probably different from most of the people in the building.
Jennings didn't score in the first quarter and had 10 in the second. 10 points is a good quarter, but it's not all that out of the ordinary by NBA standards. Looking at the play-by-play from that third quarter where he scored 29, he opened with a missed free throw and scored his first points at the 10:17 mark. He wrapped his scoring with 45 seconds left. So that's roughly 9:30 of game action to score 29 points. I think it was around the five-minute mark in the quarter when I realized we were seeing something big. He had 17 points with five minutes to go.
However, instead of fully taking it all in, I wondered about records for points in a quarter and all of those stats that ultimately came out of the game for Jennings. I spent a decent portion of the third quarter researching those types of things, so I missed a lot of the frenzy. I do remember looking up late in the quarter and seeing Jennings shooting a highly contested 3-pointer and thinking he might be taking things a bit far. To that point I thought he was getting most of his points in the flow of the game and not forcing anything. That was a shot he probably shouldn't have taken, but after it went in I realized that this was one of those Michael Jordan shrugged shoulders kind of a zone. At that point, I just wanted Jennings to keep shooting However, instead of fully taking it all in, I wondered about records for points in a quarter and all of those stats that ultimately came out of the game for Jennings. I spent a decent portion of the third quarter researching those types of things, so I missed a lot of the frenzy. I do remember looking up late in the quarter and seeing Jennings shooting a highly contested 3-pointer and thinking he might be taking things a bit far. To that point I thought he was getting most of his points in the flow of the game and not forcing anything. That was a shot he probably shouldn't have taken, but after it went in I realized that this was one of those Michael Jordan shrugged shoulders kind of a zone. At that point, I just wanted Jennings to keep shooting â€“ covered or not.
The third quarter ended with Jodie Meeks draining what I remember to be a half court shot. It's funny that shot stood out to me since I just saw a guy score 29 points in a quarter - a half court shot really doesn't compare in terms of difficulty. However, those types of shots always seem like a big bonus to me. If he doesn't make that shot, the Warriors would've held a lead late in the fourth quarter and who knows what happens in the final seconds of the game. A 55-point effort means so much more when you win compared to a loss.
Jennings went on to score 16 in the fourth quarter to seal the win and the 55-point effort. I didn't see much of the fourth quarter either because at that point the interest from records scored for points in a quarter to points scored in a game by a rookie â€“ and the other records about youngest/fastest to 50, etc...
After the game ended, I remembered talking to friends about how this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime event to see and how games like these put players and franchises on the map. The Bucks and Brandon Jennings were must watch TV after this. Friends who were casual basketball friends were saying that Jennings was the player to bring basketball back to prominence in Milwaukee â€“ lets not forget that he scored 32 against the Nuggets in the game prior to the 55-point outing and 25, 19, 29 and 26 following that game.
I can also say that this wasn't a shock to me since Jennings took over the Bucks home opener by tallying 16 in one quarter (less than eight minutes, to be exact) against the Pistons.
The 55-point game and the 2009-10 season as a whole were my favorite Bucks moments since the 2003-04 season when that club overachieved and made the playoffs.
November 14, 2009 was a typical fall Saturday for me. I had spent the whole day working and all I wanted to do was plop down on the couch for a few hours and watch some mind-numbing TV. Of course, my first choice was to find a reality show but for some reason those are hard to come by on Saturday nights. I finally settled in on who knows what, put my feet up and relaxed until I got a text message from my dad.
"Put on the Bucks game" was all it said. Now normally my Dad will text me with updates from Bucks games since I was living in Madison at the time and he was in Milwaukee, but with him advising me to put on the game, I knew something big was happening.
Before I could even turn the channel, I received another text from him, "Brandon Jennings just scored 29 points in the third quarter...had 0 in the first." So I flipped on FOX Sports Wisconsin just in time for the fourth and was able to see what he was talking about. Unfortunately, I missed the bulk of Brandon's scoring but the fourth quarter was entertaining enough for me. The Warriors kept the game close at the end and every time they went up, it seemed like Jennings was always the one putting the Bucks back on top.
My night of relaxation had somehow turned to a night of nervousness in the final 30 seconds with the Bucks only up by three, which then turned into just a one-point lead with 19 seconds left. I for sure thought Anthony Morrow's 3-pointer was going in because a game like this was almost too good to be true but of course, Brandon was there to prove me wrong, grab the rebound and then score his 54th and 55th points of the night.
I couldn't completely rest my nerves until the final horn went off but once it did, I sent my dad a text with just one word, "Wow".
At that point, that was the only word that could describe what I had just witnessed.