6th Fan Blogger: Bucks vs. LA Clippers
The Life and Times of Primoz Brezec
When Jodie Meeks and Francisco Elson were sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Primoz Brezec, Royal Ivey and a second-round pick, I can't shake the feeling that most Bucks fans responded with a "Who?" in regards to Brezec. Fans knew Ivey from his previous stint in Milwaukee, but Brezec remained a mystery to most fans. Well buckle up boys and girls because that's all about to change. You're about to embark on the fantastic voyage that is ... the life and times of Primoz Brezec.
Brezec, a 7-foot-1, 30-year old native of Slovenia, began his professional career in 1998 when he joined Union Olimpija Ljubljana of the Slovenian Premier A League. After two years of honing his craft in Europe, he was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft. His NBA career got off to a slow start with three uneventful years in Indiana, but it picked up considerably when he was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2004 Expansion Draft.
Brezec took full advantage of his first extended action in the NBA, starting all 151 games he'd play in over the next two seasons in Charlotte. He averaged 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, while shooting 51.5 percent from the field in nearly 30 minutes per game. He showed a feathery touch from mid-range, and occasionally stepped back from way beyond the arc. Brezec had finally made his mark in the league.
A falling out with head coach Sam Vincent during the 2007-08 season ended Brezec's time in Charlotte. He was traded to Detroit early in the season, and was traded again to Toronto after 17 games with Detroit. Brezec made a great first impression with Toronto, sinking all five of his shots en route to 11 points in his first game as a Raptor. He quickly became a fan favorite because of his hustle and colorful use of the English language, which often included starting a sentence with "gangsta" and finishing it with "pimp." I've always felt my record collection wouldn't be complete without some Slovenian rap. Perhaps Brezec is just the guy to put the cherry on top.
Unfortunately, all of that wasn't quite enough to keep him in the Great White North, as he spent the next season playing for Lottomatica Roma, occasionally running pick-and-rolls with our very own Brandon Jennings. After a 2008-09 campaign in which Brezec average 9.4 points and 4.4 rebounds, he returned to the United States to play for the 76ers, who subsequently traded him to Milwaukee at this year's trade deadline.
And Brezec, like many 7-footers who are routinely challenged, has been the recipient of many "facials", as Marv Albert would say. Stephane Lasme, Josh Smith, Dwyane Wade and Vince Carter are just some of the few who have posterized the big man. Such is the life of a 7-footer. Brezec isn't afraid to hand out a little punishment himself, though, as evidenced by the throwdown served on the poor, unsuspecting Polish player seen here.
In conclusion, Brezec's basketball life has been one of ups and downs. But he's a veteran big man, which are always useful come playoff time, especially in a conference boasting the likes of Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal. So we, as Milwaukeeans, should embrace the Primoz era. It may not last long, but it's not often one gets to see a true Slovenian Gangsta take the court. Enjoy it while it lasts.
- I don't think I've seen a more carefree lay-up line this year than the effort put forth by the Clippers prior to tonight's game. I don't think there was a serious lay-up in the bunch. DeAndre Jordan was giving Bobby Brown a little boost on his dunk attempts, Drew Gooden was launching 40-footers and Steve Blake was attempting in-air moves that guys like Steve Blake should never attempt.
- Basketball players make many decisions that I question, but one that always sticks out is when a player gets the ball in close, and then dribbles out to 18 feet and launches a jumper. Drew Gooden, former owner of the "ducktail" was guilty of this in the first quarter. He received the ball right underneath the hoop, decided there was a much worse shot available, dribbled out to the corner and launched a contested jumper. A truly mind-boggling decision. Speaking of Gooden, I've never quite understood what it is about him that seemingly makes teams allergic to him. He's played on eight teams in seven years despite very respectable career averages of 12 points and eight boards. Maybe it's his predilection for ill-conceived 18-footers.
- Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is shooting 59.7 percent on the season. While that's an extremely nice percentage, I'm amazed it's not higher. Granted, I don't take in many Clippers games --mostly because it's dangerous for your health -- but I don't think I've seen Jordan take a shot outside of two feet throughout the entirety of his two-year career. According to Wikipedia, the most credible of credible sources, Jordan had a game last year in which he scored 23 points, 20 of which came on dunks. He doesn't do a whole lot else offensively -- especially free throws - but what he does do, he does very well.
- It's not all that unusual, but I thought it should be brought up anyways. Early in the second quarter, Ersan Ilyasova laid a pump fake on Jordan that is destined for SportsCenter's Top 10. It was a mere 12-foot jump shot on the baseline, but Jordan somehow ended up in the first row seats courtside. It was immaculate. Pretty much par for the course, but awe-inspiring nonetheless.
- The Prince has a dependable jumper in him. I know he does. His mid-range game wasn't half bad last year, but it has really regressed this season despite dozens of hours in the gym shooting jumpers in the offseason. At this point, he looks like he's thinking about it too much. He looks uncomfortable and tight. He just needs to let it fly and see what happens. He reminds of me of former Twin and Yankee Chuck Knoblauch, who had such a severe mental block that he couldn't make the simple throw from second to first. The Prince needs to conquer that mental block.
- I love the anticipation of an Andrew Bogut block. There are times when you can see him closing in on a lay-up attempt like a lion chasing down a powerless gazelle. I love knowing that it's about to happen, and then actually seeing it go down. That was the case with three minutes left in the third period, when Bogut denied an Eric Gordon lay-up, triggering a fast break that resulted in a Jerry Stackhouse dunk. Nothing gets a crowd into a game like a sequence of events such as those.
- And another thing I love about Bogut. The guy stands up for his teammates. When Blake put a cheap elbow in Ilyasova's chest late in the third quarter, Bogut responded by setting a pick with unkind intentions on Blake on the other end, and getting in his face directly thereafter. That's the kind of team mentality that isn't lost on fans, as Squad 6 led an "An-drew Bo-gut" chant that rocked the BC for two solid minutes.
Closing It Out
This was exactly the kind of game I was hoping for tonight. The Bucks needed to exact some revenge, and they needed to do it in convincing fashion. Milwaukee had been playing down to weaker competition, but that all changed tonight as they put a harsh beating on the visiting Clippers. The offense was sharp and the defense was sharper, holding four of five Clipper starters under 50 percent and the team to just 36.8 percent shooting overall. Extra credit should be given to Charlie Bell, who helped hold Gordon to a 2-for-13 night.
Milwaukee's bench played great tonight. Jerry Stackhouse broke out of a mini-slump with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, marking the first time in his last eight games that he's shot better than 50 percent. Ilyasova did what Ilyasova does, throwing ridiculous pump fakes at anyone who'll fall for one, which is everybody, finishing with 20 points and eight boards. Kurt Thomas ripped a page from Ilyasova's book with a nice pump fake of his own in the fourth quarter, highlighting a solid effort of five points, nine boards and three assists in just 18 minutes.
Tonight's game could not have gone any better. The Bucks picked up an easy win that allowed them to rest their starters in the final frame, which will come in handy tomorrow night when they take the LeBrons. It was a fun game to watch with a highlight reel that won't disappoint, and the crowd at the BC provided a great atmosphere. I can't ask for much more. We even got an eyeful of Primoz.Work hard. Play hard. Type hard.
Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.