By Alex Boeder
Ray Allen splashed 1996 with greens, purples, silvers. At 21, he wore a fresh coat of paint.
Milwaukee suited up in an alternate jersey during the 1996-97 season (introduced lightly in 1995-96) featuring a Buck wrapped around the front right side, and this sentence cannot end until word purple. Although mostly green, the purple made the jersey pop. Looking at the uniform was like driving over a hill into a Wisconsin night.
Here is the good news: Starting in February, the Bucks will reach deep into their wardrobe to make a 1990s fashion statement.
The Bucks will sport the hunter green, purple, and silver hardwood classic jerseys 10 times throughout February and March.
Feb. 1 at Knicks
Feb. 2 vs Magic
Feb. 5 at Nuggets
Feb. 9 vs Pistons
Feb. 23 vs Hawks
March 2 vs Raptors
March 17 vs Magic
March 20 at Hawks
March 22 vs Pacers
March 30 vs Thunder
Back in 1992, Mike Dunleavy Sr. had eyes on reinvigorating the franchise, as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach of the Bucks. One of his first thoughts upon inking a contract with the team was to upgrade uniforms. In the end, the team chose a new base color scheme of green, purple, and silver. As the story goes, “Dunleavy even scoured Milwaukee-area department stores with his three sons, to get a feel as to how the youth market reacts.”
And so we can at least in part thank current Bucks forward, Mike Dunleavy Jr., for making purple possible, both back in 1996-97 and again in 2013.
Ten Things You Probably Forgot About The 1996-97 Bucks
And finally, in nostalgia-coated celebration of the hardwood classic jerseys, 10 things you probably forgot (or never knew) about the 1996-97 Bucks:
Tower: Keith Tower, a 6’11” center from Montana, played four years of hoops at Notre Dame, culminating in a senior season during which he averaged 4.3 points and shot 39.6 % from the field. Logically, he was not drafted. In spite of this, Tower found his way to the NBA. Although he only played 39 career NBA minutes, his crowning moment came at the expense of the Bucks when he inexplicably tallied 19 points on 8-9 shooting while playing for the Clippers in Milwaukee in 1995. Apparently enamored with Tower after that performance, the Bucks signed him prior to the 1996-97 campaign. On November 25, 1996, Tower made his first start for the Bucks – he shot 0-2 at the free throw line, picked up two fouls, and otherwise posted a blank box score line in five minutes. The Bucks won, waived him two days later, and Tower never played again in the NBA.
Iverson’s first NBA game: How is this for a script? Future Hall of Fame guards Allen Iverson and Ray Allen started on Opening Night as rookies against each other. And yes, the Bucks defeated Iverson in his first NBA game, 111-103. The electric Iverson scored 30 points on 12-19 shooting, while Allen struggled to 13 points on 3-10 shooting. But it was Sherman Douglas who got the better Iverson, going for 22 points on 8-13 shooting along with 8 assists. Also, future Bucks guard Jerry Stackhouse was a part of that 76ers lineup that also included 1990s gems Derrick Coleman and Clarence Weatherspoon.
Cuonzo: Cuonzo Martin played the final three games of his NBA career for the Bucks over the span of two 10-day contracts – missing all seven shots, as fate would have it. The Bucks lost all three games that he played. Martin scored 9 points in his NBA career, all with the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995-96.
Respert’s last game with Bucks: One year earlier, the Bucks had traded for Shawn Respert, the #8 overall pick, on Draft Night. Respert was a All-American 1st Team guard who averaged 25.6 points as a senior at Michigan St. That marked a third straight season that he averaged 20.0+ points, and he left college a 45.5 % three-point shooter. Yet Respert averaged just 4.9 points as a rookie. Although he did not tell the public or even his family, Respect had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1996. He shot 0-1 and did not score in a loss to the Heat in his final game with the Bucks before the team traded him to the Raptors for Acie Earl.
Allen v Marbury: The Bucks and Timberwolves swapped their lottery picks – Ray Allen and Stephon Marbury – in the 1996 NBA Draft. Both players struggled in their first matchup – Allen shot 5-17 while Marbury committed 6 turnovers –but they set off fireworks the second time around. Allen scored 29 points on 10-16 shooting along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. But Marbury scored 17 points on 6-8 shooting along with 17 assists – and secured the win.
Glenn against the Jazz: The Jazz went on to fall to the Bulls in the Finals in 1996-97, in a series made most famous by Michael Jordan’s heroic Game 5 performance known now as The Flu Game. But before all of that, Glenn Robinson played one of the most fantastic games of his career to lead the Bucks to an overtime win over the Jazz in Milwaukee. Robinson went for 38 points on 13-18 shooting along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists to propel the Bucks past MVP-to-be Karl Malone, who countered with 38 points, 19 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Bucks scored 20 points in the five-minute overtime.
All-Rookie Teams: Ray Allen earned All-Rookie 2nd Team honors – not bad considering he joined Kobe Bryant on that team. Joining Allen and Bryant? Try Kerry Kittles, Travis Knight, and Matt Maloney. The All-Rookie 1st Team was comprised of Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Marcus Camby, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and Antione Walker.
5-1: The Bucks finished with a forgettable 33-49 record, but they started the year red (purple?) hot. The Bucks jumped off to a 5-1 start, underlined by a 100-98 win over Glen Rice’s Charlotte Hornets, who went on to post a 54-28 record. Unfortunately, things fizzled a bit from there, and the 5-1 start was perhaps somewhat overshadowed by the Bulls, who started 17-1 and finished the regular season with 69 before winning the title.
Elliot Perry’s listed weight: Elliot Lamonte Perry had one of the best nicknames in Bucks history – Socks – befitting one of the best trademark styles in Bucks history: those tall, reach-for-the-knees socks. Perry also was listed at 6’0” and 150 pounds. To put that into perspective, the trim Brandon Jennings is listed at 6’1” and 169 pounds. Perry’s frame withstood the NBA just fine – he played in all 82 games in 1996-97.
Baker’s final game dozen: Possibly Vin Baker’s finest season was his final season in Milwaukee (he was also outstanding the next season, his first in Seattle). Baker averaged 21.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 1.0 steal on his way to All-NBA 3rd Team honors. In his final game with the Bucks, Baker shot a perfect 13-13 from the field on his way to 31 points to lead the Bucks to a win over the Charlotte Hornets.
My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.