Brandon Jennings launched massive orange planets through a little orange ring – the stars aligned, the solar system fluttered.
To some, the Bucks just beat the Heat that first night in February. To me, the basketball was a massive orange planet, the rim a little orange ring, the star Jennings – and I was the heart of the solar system.
About three months earlier, during the thick of the lockout, Jennings offered this: “The world can’t go without basketball; the world is shaped like a basketball.”
Earth science technicalities aside, sometimes the world is shaped like a basketball.
You can debate whether this year’s Team USA could beat the original Dream Team or how much the game has improved throughout the world since 1992. But the underlying point is that this Team USA 2012 version was one of the best ever and that the game has indeed improved throughout the world.
That got me thinking. Where are players on the Bucks from? Not just the current team. All of them. Ever. So, I pulled open a list of everyone who has ever played for the Bucks and began plotting their hometowns on Google Maps. This proved to be a time-consuming venture, but also a rewarding one: Remembering that Luke Ridnour was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is liable to make your day too.
Since a single Google Map can only contain a finite number of pins, I split the maps into three distinct maps: international players, players born east of the Mississippi River in the United States, and players born west of the Mississippi in the United States.
You can left-click and drag to move left, right, up, down (west, east, north, south). You can zoom in and out. You can click on a point and see which player was born in that particular geographic location. Then you click on the player’s name to check out their Basketball-Reference biography, complete with a full profile and statistics. You can click the link below the map for a full listing. You can see if anyone was born in the same city as you, or the same state.
Or the same country, because the Bucks have shown an international flavor, especially of late. In franchise history, 21 players to log minutes for the Bucks were born outside the United States. That is 21 out of 331 total, which amounts to approximately 6.3 %.
The country to have produced the most Bucks players other than the United States? Curiously, the Netherlands, with three. The Dutch have never appeared in the Olympics, have made just one appearance in the FIBA World Cup (1986), and have never medaled in Eurobasket. But they have produced three players – all centers – for the Bucks: Swen Nater, Dan Gadzuric, and Francisco Elson.
The only international city producing more than one Buck is Split, Croatia, birthplace of Toni Kukoc and Roko Ukic.
The United States
The game is expanding rapidly beyond the borders of the United States. But American-born players still comprise roughly 93.7 % of all-time Bucks.
The city of Milwaukee has produced by far the most NBA players within Wisconsin, with 16 of the 41 total. However, none of them have played for the Bucks. The only three Wisconsinites to play for the Bucks are Reece Gaines (Madison), Tony Smith (Wauwatosa), and Joe Wolf (Kohler). Smith, who attended Wauwatosa East High School, played collegiately at Marquette University and currently works as an analyst at FS Wisconsin, was born in Wauwatosa, the closest city to Milwaukee among the locals.
New York retains the title as Mecca of Basketball, at least for Milwaukee, as the state has produced more Bucks (31) than any other state. And the vast majority of them (22) are from New York City (including Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, Bronx, and Rockaway).
A few of the most notable players hailing from New York include Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (New York), Bob Lanier (Buffalo), and Brian Winters (Rockaway). Illinois (26) ranks third, and is the birthplace of some good ones as well, including Jack Sikma (Kankakee) and Terry Cummings (Chicago).
The next hottest spot after New York is California (27). Californians are highlighted a pair of the finest guards in recent team history: Brandon Jennings (Compton) and Ray Allen (Merced).
That middle, wide open portion of the United States looks pretty barren, though a population density map goes a long way toward explaining why that is the case.
Eleven states have not yet produced a Buck. Two are not part of the contiguous United States (Hawaii, Alaska), five are small states in the Northeast (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island), and the other four range from the Midwest to the West (North Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico).
And, Carlos Delfino (Argentina), who recently signed with the Rockets, is also the only South American to play for the Bucks, despite the region producing some top-shelf basketball talent.
A few more random notes:
- Four players from Jackson, Mississippi (135th largest city in United States): Joe Courtney, Monta Ellis, Cornell Warner, Mo Williams.
- Two players from Rocky Mount, North Carolina (pop. 57,477): Phil Ford, Anthony Avent.
- Eight players from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fred Carter, Lynn Greer, Wali Jones, Rich Laurel, Ronald Murray, Guy Rodgers, John Salmons, Hakim Warrick.
- One player (Quinn Buckner) from Phoenix, Illinois (pop. 2,157), but none from Phoenix, Arizona (sixth largest city in United States).
- Four players from Richmond, Virginia, including some quality ones: Bob Dandridge, Gerald Henderson, Paul Pressey, Linton Townes
Four players did not include birthplaces on their profiles: Charlie Lowery, Barry Nelson, Jeff Webb, and Billy Zopf. If and when I locate their birthplaces, they will be added to the map. Next: Maps of current Bucks players and NBA players hailing from Wisconsin.