to the nets....well what of this?
The Larger World
Andrew Bogut has poured money into season tickets for Bucks fans.
"I lived for six years in Europe and went to a lot of basketball games," I was saying recently to Andrew Bogut. "When I came back home ..."
"You missed it?" he said.
"Yes," I told him. "The games are so quiet here."
Of course, that isn't true exactly. The NBA arenas are incomprehensibly noisy, but most of the noise is artificial. It comes out of loudspeakers via music or video clips.
What I meant to say is that the fans are relatively quiet. Apart from cheering for a basket or a blocked shot, there is very little coherent sound coming from the fans in NBA arenas.
In Europe, the mood is entirely different. The fans chant and sing and generate their own entertainment. The most passionate supporters in Europe don't want to be entertained by the players -- they aim instead to inspire the team while enjoying themselves. That's why Bogut last year introduced Squad 6 -- named after his uniform number in Milwaukee -- for which he purchased a block of 100 season tickets to be dispensed among the noisiest fans.
"There are a lot of people out there who can't afford tickets who would love to get to a game, so I give them the opportunity," Bogut said. "All they have to do to repay that is to cheer and be loud.
"They sing songs about players during the game. They sang Dude Looks Like a Lady for Joakim Noah last year. They did Love Stinks for Kevin Love, and at the end of the games they do the 'Ole', ole'-ole'-ole' song. They do the Seven Nations Army song at the start of every fourth quarter. I think they'll have some more stuff coming out this year."
The initiative was so successful last year that Bogut picked it up again this year, though he realizes he can't replicate the European climate because the NBA doesn't permit the drummers who provide a backbeat and inspire the larger crowd to sing along.
"David Stern has outlawed that because I guess too many sponsors don't want to hear the drums," Bogut said. "There are differing opinions on it, but that's just the way the league is. The rule book is getting thicker and thicker."
Bogut's experiment makes me wonder how the league may eventually be influenced by Stern's recently renewed promise to install a division of five NBA teams in Europe within the decade. I've always worried that the NBA would rob Europe of its passion by pricing out the most sincere supporters and drumming out the drummers, but what if some of the creativity and exuberance of European basketball happened to rub off on the NBA? Some of the stale arenas over here could benefit from the inspiration.
Bogut said the Bucks discussed moving Squad 6 to another section of the arena this season before he had them reinstated in the lower bowl across the court facing the Milwaukee bench.
"I'm probably the biggest-spending season-ticket holder," he said. "I have a bit of a say, so we moved them back to where they belong."
Bogut's ultimate goal is to see his section of fans leading the entire arena in cheers someday.
"That would be great," he said. "If I moved on from Milwaukee, there would be nothing better than to come back here and still see them around. That's my goal: I'd love to see it actually become a fan club. It's really, really important."