NOT MILWAUKEE, Nov. 14, 2006 -- How does one follow a column that made grown men weep:

"This brought a tear to my eye Mr. Peterson. I'm a life long Bucks fan, in that same crazy way that people around here are Packer fans. I do not own any sports related clothing, other than the warm ups from the late '70s Milwaukee Bucks, green and red baby, with Milwaukee spelled out across the back, the best ones ever. My old man has had season tickets since I can remember, he actually won a car with a half court shot during halftime back in 1981. It's in my blood."
-- Eric, from Milwaukee

... that made others rejoice in the knowledge other people like them exist:

"Man it's good to hear the voice of a Bucks fan. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking this was still a 29-team league. Hope you're here for a long time."
-- Stu from Melbourne, Australia

... and engendered an e-mail from a guy who played for my dad in college nearly 25 years past?

"Tell, the Shot Dr. I said, 'Hey.'"
-- Jim from Huntley, Ill.

It was going to be difficult, but I knew something would come to me. Then came Saturday night, and this week's column began to write itself.

Let's try this again, shall we?

NOT MILWAUKEE, Nov. 14, 2006 -- See? What did I tell you?

Pain. Agonizing pain.

If, after my introductory column last week, anyone needed convincing about a Bucks' fan's anguish, Michael Redd provided it in a 48-minute, 57-point nutshell.

Redd poured in 57 glorious, wonderful, franchise record-setting points against the Utah Jazz (another team that deserves a column), and the Bucks lost 113-111. They lost . When their All-Star shooting guard scored 57 points, two more than the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever scored in a game in a Milwaukee uniform, and three more than the rest of his teammates scored that night, they lost.

You couldn't write a cleaner, clearer definition as to what it means to be a Bucks fan. The taste -- bittersweet.

"I wanted to get the win," Redd told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "That was the main thing. I wanted to win the game and I would have felt better if we had gotten the win."

(At least when Kareem set his record of 55 points on Dec. 10, 1971, the Bucks tallied a 120-104 win over the Celtics. Take that Dave Cowens!)

And how did they lose? By falling into a hole deeper than the Mariana Trench, fighting their way back to an 111-111 tie on a Redd three-pointer -- the joint is jumpin' -- only to see the Jazz race down the court and find a streaking Matt Harpring for a backdoor layup.

Of course, the Bucks get the ball to Redd for the final shot, and despite his Redd-hotness, Michael's fairy tale night ended with a missed shot.

"We didn't win the game," center Andrew Bogut told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He played a great game individually but I'm sure he'd rather score 20 points and get a win."

Sigh.

That sigh became more deeply felt for Bucks fans when they realized the loss was the Bucks' fourth of the week. Coach Terry Stotts told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Bucks would emphasize defense this week. After getting torched to the tune of 109.0 points per last week, that would seem to be a priority, especially with Atlanta's Joe Johnson (reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week), Vince Carter (who's second in the L in scoring behind Redd with 31.2 points per game) and the Pacers at home on Saturday.

Well, that and not falling behind by double digits every game.

And while it may be too early for Bucks fans to panic, it's never too early to start worrying -- especially about the playoffs. With 13 of their next 24 on the road, and home games against the Heat, Nets and Wizards in that span, the Bucks can't fall behind in the standings like they have in recent games. A Playoffs spot in the East is there for the taking.

That being said, if one needs to find a bright spot in all of this, Redd, a second-round pick in 2000, has become one of the premier shooting guards in the NBA and a joy to watch. (I won't quibble about the zero assists on his record setting night ... not yet, at least.) Bucks fans can show their love for Redd Hot by clicking the check box next to his name on the 2007 NBA All-Star Ballot.

And despite the Bucks only having three guys on the ballot (Redd, Bogut and Charlie V.), you can still make it an all-Wisconsin lineup by throwing Racine, Wis. native and Wizards forward Caron Butler and Marquette alum, Finals MVP and Heat guard Dwyane Wade into the mix.

Then again, that's just me. Cheeseheads unite!

LETTERS, I GET LETTERS

If I get enough of them, and enough good ones, I'll do a letters section each week.

The reaction to my first Central Intelligence ranged from "Thank you!" to "Thank god!"

"Thank god. We didn't need another Knicks, or Celtics, or Lakers fan columnist. Thanks for representing the other 27 teams in the NBA. Hopefully it won't weigh to heavy.

"P.S. It's ok to lean heavily Milwaukee, we deserve it."
-- Paul in Milwaukee

Well, as Clint said in Unforgiven, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Though, I do get a thrill from revealing to the rest of the world, that, yeah, we have dedicated fans, too.

Seriously, we received about 20 letters (which is more Bucks fans than I expected), and all of them were along the lines of: "Whoa! It's about time." I was shocked by the overwhelmingly positive response. As a matter of fact, I'll print the most negative e-mail:

"I agree with the column re Milwaukee. I have NEVER liked the Bucks, but this year they look pimped out with Villanueva Bogut and Redd."
-- Dwayne in Brisbane, Australia

OK, I'll take it. You're one of us now, Dwayne from Brisbane.

Anyway, while we will give the rest of the hoops world a look into our collective psyche, we will tackle the Central Division, one of two divisions (the Atlantic being the other) with three teams who have won NBA championships in their current cities and quite possibly the toughest division in the L right now.

WEEKLY CALL FROM DAD

In regard to my manifesto and column as a whole from last week, I got a call from my dad, Bob. (Who for the sake of full disclosure, works as the Toronto Raptors' video coordinator. He was with the Bucks for 16 years, but that's a whole 'nother column...)

Anyway, he noted the manifesto.

"I liked it," Dad said, "though you had the order mixed up."

What? "Yeah, if you get the ball, you should be ready to shoot, pass or dribble when you get the ball, not dribble then pass. Pass first."

Ah, gotcha. Let that be a lesson to all of us.

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