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Preview: Milwaukee Bucks "Return to the MECCA" Game

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- On Thursday, the Bucks will play at home, but at a different home, one they played in decades ago.

The MECCA, now known as the UW Milwaukee Panther Arena, is back for one night as the Bucks host the Celtics.

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It’ll be like stepping into a time machine tonight for Bucks fans as they walk onto a piece of history. The MECCA is back for one night with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the new generation of Bucks honoring the past.

“I’m just going to try to do what Kareem did, get buckets,” said Giannis.

Before the Greek Freak was an MVP candidate, before he was born, Milwaukee basketball had 3 superstars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and the MECCA court designed by world famous artist Robert Indiana.

When people watched NBA basketball on TV, everything sort of looked the same. There’s only so much you can do with a basketball court to make it unique from one to another. It was just that local pride of having something so identifiable that had international audiences talking about Milwaukee at that time.

The court was designed to stand out. It’s bright colors also gave the Bucks an edge, creating a home court advantage when players aren’t used to the design.

“I think the guys were taken aback by the floor and understanding how bright the floor is and making that adjustment,” says Jason Kidd, Bucks Head Coach.

“It takes a little bit of time to get used to it because it’s bright. That’s why we practiced here today so we could get used to it, but I love it,” says Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks expect a sellout crowd of nearly 11,000 fans – a little more than half of a Bradley Center sellout. The energy in the building should more than make up for fewer fans.

“I know everybody is going to be excited. It’s going to be good. Hopefully we can win the game and make everybody more excited,” said Giannis.

“A lot of talented Milwaukee Bucks teams have played here so it’s exciting and hopefully we can put on a good show,” says Kidd.

Tip off for the game is at 7:00 Thursday night in front of a national audience. We’ll have highlights and a complete wrap from the MECCA on the CBS 58 News at 10.

Facts about the “Return to the MECCA” Game

  • The game is part of the Bucks’ celebration of their 50th Anniversary season
  • The Bucks called the MECCA home from their inaugural season in 1968 until 1988.
  • Bucks vs. Celtics is a fitting matchup, as the teams had a long-standing rivalry in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The Bucks have created a special court for the game that is a replica of the famed MECCA court that was played on from 1977 through 1988.
  • The Bucks will wear their Classic Edition uniform, which is a modern take on the original Bucks uniform from 1968.
  • While they played at the MECCA, the Bucks compiled a 582-209 home record in 20 seasons, made 16 playoff appearances, won one NBA Championship in 1971 (with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson), two conference titles and 12 division championships.
  • “Mr. Buck” Jon McGlocklin will attend the game. McGlocklin played in the Bucks’ first team in 1968-69 and scored the first basket in team history. He also was a starter on the 1971 championship team.
  • The arena is currently the home of the Milwaukee Admirals minor league hockey team, the UW-Milwaukee basketball team, roller derby, indoor soccer and other events.


MECCA Floor Installation Time Lapse from CBS 58 News on Vimeo.

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