Spending the Day with the Bucks John Henson

Here is a quick story about an incredible experience I had this past Monday, August 27 with the newest member of the Milwaukee Bucks, rookie John Henson. The Milwaukee Bucks big man (6’11), rookie John Henson, recently made his way to Green Bay and he shared his time with me and my family. It would turn out to be one heck of an experience.

So how did I get to spend the day with John? As it turns out, during the previous week, I went online to the Bucks website to catch up on any happenings coming out of Milwaukee as they pertained to the Bucks. On the website I noticed a promotion giving a lucky fan the chance to meet and hang with John Henson, who was drafted by the Bucks 14th overall, for the day in Green Bay. I filled out my application and submitted it on Tuesday, August 21. As the weekend started gradually slipping away, I had completely forgotten about registering for the experience, until I got a call from Mike Grahl, who works for the marketing department with the Bucks. He told me I had won. At first I thought it was a friend of mine playing a trick on me or maybe Mike had contacted the wrong person because what ordinary “Joe” ever really wins. After realizing that this was no joke, we worked out the details for the upcoming Monday, which would start at 10 a.m. in the Lambeau Field parking lot.

I was informed I could bring a guest. My first thought was to ask a friend or one of my two brothers. My wife came into the living room as I was wrapping up my phone call and could tell I was extremely excited about something.

“What was that all about?” she said.

“I won, I won!” I replied. “I get to take a private tour of Lambeau, watch the Packers practice, ride around in a Limo, eat lunch and address the media all with John Henson.”

“John who?” my wife questioned.

“Milwaukee Bucks rookie,” I responded. “And I get to take someone. Who should I take?”

“How about me?” she quickly said.

So I ended up taking my wife (how could I not) whose name is Jamie and our 16 month old son, Colin. I think my wife was more excited to see how close she could get to Aaron Rogers, but that’s beside the point.

So on Monday, we met John in the parking lot at 10:15 a.m. We were running a little late because Colin needed some baby food from the store, so made a quick stop on the way. After parking on the east side of the stadium, we started walking up to the Packer tent in the parking lot and as we turned the corner my wife and I noticed a large man, standing with about 6 Bucks employees including Jim Paschke, who calls the games for the Bucks and has done play by play, as he would later tell me, for over 2,000 games both with the Brewers and Bucks. After our initial introduction with the staff and John the Packer players started coming out of the locker room, quickly getting on a bike and proceeded to ride the bikes to the practice field across the street. One of the staff members asked John if he wanted to ride. After some deliberation, John thought better of the idea and said, “I’m good and I think my agent wouldn’t like that either?”

John and I were in awe of the large men on these small bikes riding by. Soon afterwards, John, the Bucks staff and my family and I were guided through the player’s tunnel for our tour of the historic Lambeau Field. John pretended to do the Lambeau leap, which required very little effort for him as practically stepped over the wall. As our tour concluded, I asked John when he first dunked.

He said, “In seventh grade a fire drill went off in the middle school I was at and we found a ball and started playing. I found myself alone with the ball at one point and went up and bang, I dunked.”

As we made our way to the Packers practice after the tour, I got to know a little bit more about John. He has the same agent as Tim Duncan, he loves fishing, his first present to himself after being drafted was a new car, he has met Michael Jordan several times, he enjoyed his experience in Las Vegas while getting his first taste of NBA basketball this summer, but he didn’t like getting food poisoning the first day there, which caused him to miss the first game of the summer league. All these questions he answered with a huge smile on his face. Kids kept coming up to him and he stopped for all of those kids who asked for a photo and/or autograph, even though one of the Bucks staff quietly told John that, “Were on a schedule John.”

At practice, John and I walked the sidelines and we talked on camera to the Bucks reporter. At one point I said, “You ever play football John?”

“Yeah in like seventh grade. We were so bad, I haven’t played since,” he explained. 

Towards the end of practice John decided he was hungry and ready for lunch, “Where’s a good Green Bay restaurant around here?” John asked me.

“There are some good options, but I think that Kroll’s is the best,” I said.

So we got in the limo and drove to Krolls (local dive). As we were walking into the restaurant the lunch crowd at the bar looked and stared in amazement at how tall John Henson was. At this point I was used to his height, but I am sure those customers thought the beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk just arrived. John ordered a cheeseburger and Strawberry shake. “Is Macy (Bucks team trainer) ok with you eating that?” asked one of the Bucks assistants.

“It’s all part of the Green Bay experience isn’t it?” John said smiling.

Since John Henson is currently so skinny and the NBA season is incredibly long with 82 games, I think that the more calories at this point the better.

During lunch, I told him he might want to get ready for February in Wisconsin.

He said, “Oh yeah, what type of Jacket should I get?”

I told him, “The biggest one you can find.”

He thought that was funny, but in my opinion, Wisconsin in February is no joke.

After lunch, we took the limo again to the Resch Center. He talked about the upcoming preseason game in Green Bay on October 26. John fielded about 15 minutes of questions, from his lack of size to his biggest challenges he now faces being in the NBA. It was neat to watch how smooth John was with all the reporters. 

This gave me a chance to ask the lady from the Bucks community relations department some questions. I learned that each Bucks player needs to make a total of 12 appearances in the community or else they get fined by the NBA. This was John’s first, with eleven yet to go. I also learned that she is in charge of constantly monitoring the Twitter accounts of the players to make sure they don’t make a gaff, which she said can be very challenging especially after something is tweeted and the Bucks deem it as a potential problem. I found this fascinating. As the reporters got done with John, I happened to look at my watch a see that it was close to 3:30 p.m. Wow! Time really does fly when having fun.

A few minutes later, John and I wished each other luck on our upcoming happenings this year. I told him he is a positive person who hopefully has incredible success in the NBA like his training partner Tim Duncan has had. He hoped nothing but the best for me and my family as we have a second child in January.

Other than the physical gifts I was given, which included a shirt, signed hat, bag and basketball, the greatest keepsake from this experience was coming to the realization that ordinary people, like myself, do win these types of things and everyone gets lucky once in a while. 

Hopefully, Packer nation will come out to watch the Bucks on October 26 at the Resch Center and show some support to a franchise that needs more fans, especially here in Northeast Wisconsin.

The luckiest fan,
Cassidy McGowan
Teacher at Luxemburg-Casco High School