On a scale of 10

Bob Dandridge is 67 years old, but his vertical jump reached its apex on the night of March 7.

Dandridge, a starting forward on the Milwaukee Bucks’ 1971 NBA championship team, became the eighth player in franchise history to have his jersey number retired when his No. 10 was raised to the rafters of the BMO Harris Bradley Center that night.

The jersey retirement took place during halftime of the Bucks’ 91-85 victory over Washington -- the other NBA city for which Dandridge played during his 13 NBA seasons.

Joining Dandridge for the ceremony were his family members and friends, former Bucks teammates Jon McGlocklin, Oscar Robertson, Len Chappell, Sam Williams and Dick Garrett, and Eddie Doucette, the team’s original radio announcer.

“Some experiences are OK, some are overwhelming, but this is a humbling experience because Milwaukee thought enough of me to draft me and give me an opportunity to play in this league,” Dandridge said after Robertson welcomed him to the podium. “Milwaukee embraced a kid out of Norfolk State, a Division-II school. I’m so proud and just blessed.”

The three-time NBA All-Star spoke earlier about the fondness he quickly developed for Milwaukee – a fondness that has stood the test of time and kept bringing him back to visit.

“On one of my visits to Milwaukee, I went past the Pabst Theater and saw that it was still standing,” Dandridge said. “I went through the Third Ward and saw all the renovations and changes. I could see a lot of growth, yet the people here, from those working in the hotels to the fans, never seem to change.

“Because of its people, the city of Milwaukee has always maintained a place in my heart that’s near and dear to me.”

Dandridge entered the NBA in 1969 with little fanfare as a fourth-round draft choice.

Few members of the 1969 draft class could match what Dandridge achieved during his senior college season. He established Norfolk State records for scoring average (32.0 ppg) and rebound average (17.3 rpg) and set Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament records for points in a game (50) and tournament (114). He was named Most Valuable Player of the CIAA Tournament, even though his team finished as runner-up.

Milwaukee was a long way from Norfolk, but Dandridge soon embraced it as his home.

“I came from a historically black school, so my hangouts were in the inner city of Milwaukee – Fond du Lac, Locust, up and down 3rd Street, Radio Doctors,” Dandridge reminisced. “There was a place in the neighborhood called Toran’s.

“Those were the types of environments that kind of kept me stable. I knew when I came downtown there were going to be great fans. There was a place downtown called Concours Motors that provided us with automobiles. I couldn’t drive, so they couldn’t give me a car in my first year here.”

Dandridge has vivid memories of his first year in Milwaukee, during which he rode a city bus to home games at the Milwaukee Arena.

“I remember going to my first training camp up at Marquette University in the old gym with the wood floor and the running track up above,” he said. “Whenever I pass by Marquette, that’s what I yearn to see, and I wonder if they still use that. That was a basketball court -- that wood court.

“I remember going to camp in Janesville, Wisconsin, and coming back in the middle of September and it being cold. I had come in here from Virginia. That’s when reality kicked in.”

Dandridge, fellow 1969 draftee Lew Alcindor, and holdovers from Milwaukee’s 1968-69 expansion team such as McGlocklin, Flynn Robinson and Greg Smith, helped lead the Bucks on a meteoric rise in their second season, when they won 29 more games than they did in their flagship season and earned their first playoff berth under the direction of coach Larry Costello.

One day after Milwaukee was ousted from the 1970 Eastern Division Finals by the New York Knicks, the Bucks acquired future Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson from the Cincinnati Royals.

Robertson’s addition catapulted the team to the top of the basketball world the following season, when the Bucks posted a 66-16 regular-season record, won the Midwest Division and went on a 12-2 playoff tear to capture the NBA title.

When Robertson introduced Dandridge to the crowd Saturday, he gave his former teammate his endorsement for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. That praise spoke volumes for Dandridge.

“‘The Big O’ is the one who I primarily learned from, in terms of patience and being able to pick your spots,” Dandridge said. “But he was also able to draw everybody into his ultimate plan. He gave the ball up. At times, he kept it. At times, he dished it out.

“Going down the stretch, the expectation -- he knew it, Coach Costello knew it and the fans knew it – was that he was going to take over the game. To be complimented in any way by ‘The Big O,’ who, in his era – and I just so happened to play in his era – was the best basketball player who ever played the game, is the ultimate compliment.”

Dandridge, who stands 6-6, and his running mate at forward, the 6-5 Smith, faced mismatches of height, weight and strength on a regular basis during the Bucks’ championship season, but they utilized their speed, quickness, jumping ability and savvy to form an extremely effective partnership.

They combined for more than 30 points per game, shot over 50 percent from the field, rebounded and defended with the best players at their positions and, most importantly, meshed with Alcindor, Robertson, McGlocklin and the rest of their teammates.

“We made that work,” Dandridge said. “Neither one of us was capable of guarding a power forward night-in and night-out because of our size, so we switched off. This was something Larry Costello didn’t have to tell us.

“We may have faced Dave DeBusschere one night and Gus Johnson or Paul Silas the next. Then we’d see Bill Bridges or ‘Happy’ Hairston or ‘Butterbean’ Love. We also had to face John Havlicek, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker, Rick Barry, Connie Hawkins and Lou Hudson.

“There were no off nights. There were only 12 or 13 teams in the league, so you had to fight every night.”

Dandridge was asked what Milwaukee memories he will cherish most.

“Playing in the Milwaukee Arena,” he said. “The wooden chairs – I don’t know how the chairs were for the fans, but there were no cushions on our chairs.

“It was just a great environment to be in. It was not considered a big media center, but the fans here just treated us great – with a lot of respect. It was amazing going out after a good game, going to a great restaurant and eating. Maybe not another customer would pick up the tab, but the owner would pick up the tab.

“This is where I grew into adulthood. I still have a lot of friends here who I talk to on a regular basis. I come back two or three times a year – normally in the spring and summer. Some time ago, I got hooked on golf, and Milwaukee just happens to have the greatest public courses in the country. And that’s really unbelievable.”

Dandridge always makes sure he gazes up at the championship banner when he visits the Bradley Center.

“I think one thing that is real significant, no matter how young or old you are, if you’re a Bucks fan, everybody is conscious of the players on the world championship team and their accomplishments,” Dandridge said. “Young fans today want to know what our guys have done in the past, and what shoots out is our championship team.

“I think we accomplished some things and set some milestones in the history of the franchise. And the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin have never forgotten that. I think when you speak of world championships, you speak volumes of a franchise.”

Dandridge was asked for his reaction when he learned the Bucks planned to retire his No. 10.

“Overwhelmed. … very pleased,” he replied. “I could easily say this last, but I know that things happen in God’s time. This happened at the right time in my life, because I have kids who are of the age that they understand the significance of the type of award and being honored in this regard.

“Oftentimes we receive awards when our kids are 7, 9 years old, but fortunately for me, I’m receiving this at a time when my entire family can appreciate it.”

Many of the fans in attendance at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday had yet to be born when the evening’s guest of honor played his last game for the Bucks. But they rose in unison with those who did and made it loud and clear that Milwaukee appreciates Bob Dandridge.