Milwaukee Bucks
2021–22 Milwaukee Bucks season
Milwaukee Bucks logo
ConferenceEastern
DivisionCentral
Founded1968 (1968)[1]
HistoryMilwaukee Bucks
1968–present[2][3]
ArenaFiserv Forum
LocationMilwaukee, Wisconsin
Team colorsGood Land green, Cream City cream, Great Lakes blue, black, white[4][5][6]
         
Main sponsorMotorola[7]
PresidentPeter Feigin[8]
General managerJon Horst
Head coachMike Budenholzer[9]
OwnershipWes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli[10]
Affiliation(s)Wisconsin Herd
Championships2 (1971, 2021)
Conference titles3 (1971, 1974, 2021)
Division titles16 (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 2001, 2019, 2020, 2021)
Retired numbers9 (1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 14, 16, 32, 33)
Websitewww.nba.com/bucks
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The Milwaukee Bucks are an American professional basketball team based in Milwaukee. The Bucks compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division. The team was founded in 1968 as an expansion team, and play at the Fiserv Forum. Former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl was the long-time owner of the team, but on April 16, 2014, a group led by billionaire hedge fund managers Wes Edens and Marc Lasry agreed to purchase a majority interest in the team from Kohl, a sale which was approved by the owners of the NBA and its Board of Governors one month later on May 16.[11] The team is managed by Jon Horst, the team's former director of basketball operations, who took over from John Hammond in May 2017.

The Bucks have won two league titles (1971, 2021), three conference titles (Western: 1971, 1974, Eastern: 2021), and 16 division titles (1971–1974, 1976, 1980–1986, 2001, 2019–2021). They have featured such notable players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Bob Dandridge, Sidney Moncrief, Bob Lanier, Ray Allen, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo among others. Abdul-Jabbar and Antetokounmpo have been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player while playing for the Bucks, for a total of five MVP awards. They both are also the only players to win Finals MVP for the franchise.

Franchise history

Team creation

On January 22, 1968, the NBA awarded a franchise to Milwaukee Professional Sports and Services, Inc. (Milwaukee Pro), a group headed by Wesley Pavalon and Marvin Fishman.[12] A fan contest was held to name the new team, with over 40,000 fans participating.[13] While the most-voted fan entry was the Robins, named for Wisconsin's state bird, the contest judges went with the second-most popular choice, the Bucks, which was a reference to Wisconsin's official wild animal, the white-tailed deer. One fan, R. D. Trebilcox, was awarded a new car for his part in reasoning why the Bucks was a good nickname, saying that bucks were "spirited, good jumpers, fast and agile."[14] The Bucks marked a return of the NBA to Milwaukee after 13 years; their previous team, the Hawks, played for four seasons in the early 1950s before moving to St. Louis in 1955 (they are now based in Atlanta). In October, the Bucks played their first NBA regular-season game against the Chicago Bulls before a Milwaukee Arena crowd of 8,467. As is typical with expansion teams, the Bucks' first season (1968–69) was a struggle. Their first victory came in their sixth game as the Bucks beat the Detroit Pistons 134–118; they won only 26 more games in their first year. The Bucks' record that year earned them a coin flip against their expansion cousins, the Phoenix Suns, to see who would get the first pick in the upcoming draft. It was considered a foregone conclusion that the first pick in the draft would be Lew Alcindor of UCLA. The Bucks won the coin flip, but had to win a bidding war with the upstart American Basketball Association (ABA) to secure him.[15]

1969–1975: The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar era

During his six seasons with the Bucks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaged 30.4 points and 15.3 rebounds per game.

With the addition of Alcindor, the Bucks finished with a 56–26 record in 1969–70, second-best in the league behind the New York Knicks. The 29-game improvement was the best in league history – a record which would stand for ten years until the Boston Celtics jumped from 29 wins in 1978–79 to 61 in 1979–80. The Bucks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals, only to be dispatched in five by the Knicks in the Eastern finals. Alcindor was a runaway selection for NBA Rookie of the Year.

Oscar Robertson as a member of the Bucks

The following season, the Bucks traded for Cincinnati Royals guard Oscar Robertson to complement Alcindor. Subsequently, the Bucks finished 66–16, the second-most wins in NBA history at the time, and still a franchise record. During the regular season, the Bucks recorded a then-NBA record 20-game win streak. Posting a 12–2 record in the playoffs, they won their first NBA championship on April 30, 1971, by sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in four games. By winning the championship in only their third season, the Bucks became the fastest true expansion team in the history of North American sports to win a championship.[citation needed]

The Bucks remained a powerhouse for the first half of the 1970s. In 1972, Alcindor, who had already privately converted to Islam and changed his name, publicly announced his name change to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Bucks reached the conference finals but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. In 1973, they recorded their third consecutive 60-win season, the first NBA team to do so, but injuries resulted in an early playoff exit. The Bucks were back in the 1974 NBA Finals against the Celtics. In game six of the series, Abdul-Jabbar made his famous "sky hook" shot in a classic double-overtime victory. However, the Bucks then lost in game seven, and did not return to the NBA Finals until 2021.

As the 1974–1975 season began, Abdul-Jabbar suffered a hand injury and the Bucks got off to a 3–13 start. After his return, other injuries befell the team, sending them to the bottom of their division with a 38-44 record. When the season ended, Abdul-Jabbar announced that he no longer wished to play for the Bucks and wanted to play in a larger market, either Los Angeles or New York. After the front office was unable to convince him to stay, the Bucks obliged Abdul-Jabbar's request by trading him to the Lakers on June 16, 1975 for Elmore Smith, Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters, and David Meyers. The trade triggered a series of events that led to a change in the team's ownership. Minority owner and cable television executive Jim Fitzgerald opposed the trade and wanted to sell his stock. Although Fitzgerald was the team's largest single shareholder, he did not own enough stock to control the team.[citation needed]

1976–1979: Transition from Abdul-Jabbar

After the deal, the Bucks had several seasons in transition, but most of these players would go on to help the team. After being sold to Fitzgerald and several partners in 1976, the Bucks would enter into another era of greatness. It began with Don Nelson who became head coach in November 1976 after Larry Costello abruptly resigned. In the 1977 draft, the Bucks had three first-round picks and drafted Kent Benson, Marques Johnson and Ernie Grunfeld. Johnson would become a staple in the Bucks for years to come. Rookie Sidney Moncrief made his debut in 1979. Don Nelson went on to win two NBA Coach of the Year awards with the Bucks, both during seasons where the team won division titles, in 1983 and 1985.

On October 18, 1977, Abdul-Jabbar, playing with the Lakers, punched Benson during a game. Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand in the process.[16] Benson had been aggressive under the boards and Abdul-Jabbar, a martial arts blackbelt, snapped. Abdul-Jabbar was fined $5,000 by the NBA and missed the next 20 games. Meanwhile, Benson never played as aggressively again and the Bucks traded him to the Detroit Pistons in 1980 for veteran center Bob Lanier to fill in the hole left by the departure of Abdul-Jabbar. They then won the Midwest Division title in 1980. After losing to Seattle in the semi-finals, the Bucks moved to the Eastern Conference's Central Division.

1979–1990: The Sidney Moncrief era

There, they would win six straight division titles and have .500 seasons for the next 11 years. Within those years, the Bucks became perennial Eastern Conference contenders, primarily due to the strong play of Moncrief, Marques Johnson, Paul Pressey, Craig Hodges and the arrival of Terry Cummings, Ricky Pierce and Jack Sikma from trades with the Los Angeles Clippers and Seattle SuperSonics respectively. However, the Bucks were unable to make it to the NBA Finals again, being eliminated by either the Celtics or the Sixers each time.

For much of the 1970s, the Bucks' colors were forest green, deep red and white. In 1978, they added various shades of green to the uniforms, and in 1985, they eliminated red from the team colors.

Noteworthy for the 1980s Bucks is that in 1983 they became the first, and until 2003, only team in NBA history to sweep the Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven playoff series, being the first team to meet and defeat Michael Jordan in a playoff series (during Jordan's rookie year), and hosting Julius Erving's final NBA game in the 1987 NBA Playoffs, which would see the Bucks advancing with a game five first-round playoff victory.

Ownership and arena changes

In 1985, Fitzgerald and his partners (one of which was Stuart Shadel) decided to sell the Bucks. Fitzgerald was having health problems and some of his investors wanted to get out, and he was reeling from the failure of Sportsvue, a pioneering regional sports network–a failure that came in part because Milwaukee itself was not wired for cable. By then, Milwaukee Arena was the smallest arena in the NBA, and the city did not want to build a new one. Milwaukee businessman and future U.S. Senator Herb Kohl bought the Bucks after fears that out-of-town investors could buy the team and move it out of Milwaukee. Before the transaction was complete, broadcaster Lloyd Pettit and his wife, Jane Bradley Pettit, announced they were donating a new arena called the Bradley Center. In 2003, after considering selling the team, Kohl announced that he had decided against selling the Bucks to Michael Jordan and would "continue to own them, improve them and commit them to remaining in Wisconsin".

On May 21, 2012, the naming rights of the Bradley Center were sold to BMO Harris Bank, a division of Bank of Montreal. BMO Harris had merged with Milwaukee-based M&I Bank a year earlier. After the heirs to the Bradley fortune gave their approval, the arena was renamed the "BMO Harris Bradley Center".[17]

1990–1998: Era of struggles

Toni Kukoč playing for the Bucks.

For most of the 1990s, the Bucks franchise was mired in mediocrity under coaches Frank Hamblen, Mike Dunleavy, and Chris Ford. They would make the playoffs only three times during the 1990s, winning only one playoff game. From 1991 through 1998, the Bucks suffered a franchise-record seven straight losing seasons. During this period, the Bucks drafted Glenn Robinson with the first overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft and in 1996 acquired rookie Ray Allen in a draft-day trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both players would have prominent roles in the Bucks' resurgence during the late 1990s. At the 1998 NBA Draft, the Bucks made a trade that would come back to haunt them for years. At the draft, the Bucks selected Dirk Nowitzki with the ninth overall pick, but traded him to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Robert Traylor. Many rank this as one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, as Nowitzki would go onto a 21-season career with the Mavericks, winning a championship in 2011 while being named Finals MVP in the process, along with winning the NBA MVP award in 2007. Meanwhile, Traylor would spend just two seasons with the Bucks before joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After the franchise's 25th anniversary in 1993, the Bucks overhauled their logo and uniforms. The colors were green, purple, and silver. The old logo, which featured a cartoonish deer, was replaced in favor of a more realistic one. The primary color scheme was altered as well, when red was supplanted by purple. Purple road uniforms replaced the former green away uniforms.

In 1997, the Bucks sent all-star forward Vin Baker in a three-team trade to the Seattle SuperSonics, and they would acquire Cleveland Cavaliers guard Terrell Brandon and forward Tyrone Hill. They also traded their 10th overall pick Danny Fortson, guard Johnny Newman, and center Joe Wolf to the Denver Nuggets for center Ervin Johnson. The 1997–98 Bucks finished their season with a 36–46 record, failing to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive time.

1998–2003: The Big Three era

After a decade of dwelling near the bottom of the NBA's standings, the Bucks looked to add credibility to their basketball operations. In 1998, the team hired veteran coach George Karl, who had reached the NBA Finals with the Seattle SuperSonics. Under the leadership of Karl and general manager Ernie Grunfeld, and with the steady addition of talent such as Tim Thomas and Sam Cassell, the Bucks developed into an elite team in the Eastern Conference. The nucleus of the "big three"—consisting of Ray Allen, Cassell, and Robinson—along with Karl, created a successful renaissance era in Milwaukee. The team reached its zenith in 2000–2001, winning 52 games and their first division title in 15 years. The Bucks reached the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals by defeating the Charlotte Hornets. They lost the Eastern Conference finals in seven games to the 76ers.

After coming within one game of an NBA Finals appearance in 2001, the Bucks sought to make key off-season player additions to put the team in the NBA Finals. Behind the strong encouragement of George Karl, the Bucks acquired forward Anthony Mason at the beginning of the 2001–02 season. On paper, this move made the Bucks the team to beat in the East. However, Mason battled with his weight and had a tough time finding his role.[18] The Bucks, who at the season's midway point were the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, went into a swoon in February and March. The collapse culminated with a loss to the Detroit Pistons on the final night of the season, which eliminated the Bucks from the playoffs and gave the division to the Pistons. The fallout created tension between Karl and the players, resulting in a trade of Glenn Robinson to Atlanta (for Toni Kukoč and a 2003 first-round draft pick, used to select T. J. Ford).

During the 2002–03 season, the Bucks traded Ray Allen and backup Ronald "Flip" Murray to the Seattle SuperSonics for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. The trade allowed emerging star Michael Redd to see increased playing time, and with Payton in the backcourt, they finished the season with a 42–40 record. The Bucks made the playoffs, but lost in the first round to the New Jersey Nets in six games. That offseason, team leaders Sam Cassell and Ervin Johnson were traded to Minnesota (for Joe Smith). Payton left via free agency, after playing only 28 games for the Bucks. Karl's tenure also ended after the season. Within a one-year period, the team had lost the coach and players most responsible for the team's success during that era.

2003–2009: The Michael Redd era

Michael Redd playing for the Bucks.

Under the direction of new general manager Larry Harris, the Bucks struggled with inconsistency and injury for the next six years. During that period, they reached the playoffs twice, first under coach Terry Porter in 2004 and then under Terry Stotts in 2006. In both instances, they were defeated by the Detroit Pistons in five games. During that period, Michael Redd blossomed into an all-star and a perimeter shooting threat, becoming the new "face of the franchise".[19] The Bucks received the first pick in the 2005 NBA draft, and used it to select center Andrew Bogut. Bogut struggled with both inconsistency and injuries in his first four years in Milwaukee, but over time became a key contributor to the Bucks.

In 2006, the team finished 40–42, last in their division, 24 games behind Detroit, but still made the playoffs in a season where every team in their division did. They were paired as the eighth seed versus the 64–18 conference-leading Pistons. They won game three at home, but lost the other four in a 4–1 series loss.

Also in March, the Bucks announced that they would not renew general manager Larry Harris's contract, which was to expire in June. In April, the Bucks hired John Hammond, formerly vice-president of basketball operations for the Pistons, as their new general manager,[20] giving the Milwaukee team a fresh director recently associated with success.

Also in April, the Bucks announced that Larry Krystkowiak, the third and final head coach hired by Larry Harris, had been relieved of his duties. Scott Skiles, formerly of the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns, became head coach.

On June 26, 2008, the Bucks acquired Richard Jefferson from the New Jersey Nets in a trade for 2007 first-round draft pick Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.[21] Later that day, the Bucks selected West Virginia's Joe Alexander with the eighth pick of the NBA draft. Alexander was the first Taiwanese-born player in the NBA.

2009–2013: The Brandon Jennings era

Brandon Jennings

In the 2009 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected point guard Brandon Jennings, who had not gone to college but played in Italy the previous year. Midway through the season, Bucks' general manager John Hammond traded Hakim Warrick to the Chicago Bulls, and acquired John Salmons. In a Bucks uniform, Salmons averaged a team-leading 19.9 points per game. The play of Jennings, along with the improvement of Andrew Bogut, the improved Ersan İlyasova, and the Salmons trade, catapulted the team to be a playoff contender. At the beginning of the season, the Bucks had low playoffs expectations; they had not been in four years.[22] In October, the Bucks quickly fell behind the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central Division, but Milwaukee ultimately clinched a playoff berth on April 6, 2010, with a road win over the Chicago Bulls. It was during that time that the phrase "Fear the Deer" started, most likely by an ESPN commentator, and adopted on message boards and within Andrew Bogut's Squad 6.[23] The slogan rang well with Bucks fans, who started bringing signs with the phrase to games. The slogan became the team's battle cry in the NBA playoffs. The Bucks finished the regular season with a record of 46–36. The Bucks clinched the sixth seed and were eliminated in a seven-game series against the Atlanta Hawks. It was the farthest Milwaukee had gotten in the post-season since 2001. The Bucks' short playoff run was also in part due to Bogut suffering a broken arm after making an awkward fall after a dunk in a late-season game, thus ending his season. In the 2010–11 season, the Bucks finished ninth in the Eastern Conference, just out of reach of the playoffs.[24]

With Bogut sidelined for the rest of the season and Stephen Jackson and head coach Scott Skiles not seeing eye-to-eye, the Bucks decided to trade both players. On March 13, 2012, 48 hours before the trade deadline, the Bucks traded Bogut and Jackson to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown.

Before the 2012 NBA draft, the Bucks sent a first-round pick, Shaun Livingston, Jon Brockman, and Jon Leuer to the Houston Rockets for a first-round pick and Samuel Dalembert. In the 2012 draft, the Bucks selected Doron Lamb and John Henson.

After 32 games of the 2012–13 season, the Bucks fired Skiles, their coach since 2008. Jim Boylan was announced as the interim head coach and led the Bucks to a 22–28 record to finish the season at 38–44. The Bucks qualified as the eighth seed, where they were quickly swept 4–0 by the reigning, and eventual champions, the Miami Heat.

2013–present: The Giannis Antetokounmpo era

2013–2014: under Larry Drew

Jim Boylan was relieved of his coaching duties and ex-Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew was hired. On June 27, 2013, the Bucks chose Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick of the 2013 NBA draft. They also brought in O. J. Mayo, Carlos Delfino, Zaza Pachulia, and Gary Neal as well as seeing Monta Ellis opt-out of the final year of his contract. The Bucks also agreed to sign-and-trade Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, and Viacheslav Kravtsov. The Bucks later extended their contract with Larry Sanders with a four-year, $44 million contract and traded Ish Smith and Kravtsov to the Phoenix Suns for Caron Butler. By the start of the 2013–14 season, the Bucks only had four players on their roster from the previous season. The season itself was a struggle, as the Bucks finished with the worst record in the league at 15–67, the worst record in team history.

On April 16, 2014, long-time Bucks owner Herb Kohl agreed to sell a majority interest of the team to New York-based billionaires Wes Edens, and Marc Lasry for $550 million, but Kohl still retains a significant minority interest in the team. The new owners were expected to keep the team in Milwaukee. They were also expected to contribute $100 million toward building a new arena for the franchise.[25] Approval from the NBA Board of Governors came on May 15, a month later.[11][26] By this time, Bradley Center was seen as obsolete. The donation from the Bradley heirs did not provide for the arena's operating expenses or long-term capital needs.[27] This led the NBA to give an ultimatum to Edens and Lasry–unless the Bucks were either close to getting a new arena or actually opening a new arena by the 2017-18 season, Edens and Lasry would be required to return the franchise to the league, which would sell it to prospective ownership groups in Las Vegas and Seattle.[28]

On June 26, 2014, the Bucks chose Duke forward Jabari Parker with the second overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft.

2014–2018: under Jason Kidd

On July 1, 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks secured the coaching rights for Jason Kidd from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for two second-round draft picks in the 2015 NBA draft, and the 2019 NBA draft.[29] With the acquisition of Kidd, the team fired coach Larry Drew.

With the many changes to the Bucks in ownership, coaches, and acquiring new young players to rebuild the team, the Bucks' new slogan for the 2014–15 season became "Own The Future".

The Bucks' overall play vastly improved, and on December 26, the Bucks beat the Atlanta Hawks 107–77 for their 15th win, matching their win total of the previous season just 30 games in. The Bucks then went on a stretch from January 24 to February 20, where they went 10–2. The Bucks beat the Sacramento Kings on February 11 for their 30th win of the year, and also became the first-ever NBA team to double their win total from the previous season before the All-Star Break.

Off the court, the Bucks made several changes to their roster, releasing Larry Sanders after several off-court incidents that led to multiple suspensions. On February 19, in the final minutes of the trade deadline, the Bucks became part of a 3-way deal with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns, sending Brandon Knight, who was in the final year of his contract, to the Suns, and receiving reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, Miles Plumlee, and Tyler Ennis. The Bucks also lost expected superstar Jabari Parker to a season-ending knee injury on December 15 in a game against the Phoenix Suns.

On January 25, the NBA passed the 'Jay-Z Rule', prohibiting ownership groups from consisting of more than 25 individuals, and also mandating that no ownership interest in a team be smaller than 1%. Both Lasry and Edens had sold chunks of Bucks ownership to family, friends, and prominent members of the Milwaukee community.[30]

The Bucks finished the 2014–15 season with a 41–41 record. Their 26-game improvement from the previous season was the second-highest in franchise history. The Bucks made the 2015 NBA Playoffs as the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, where they faced the Chicago Bulls in the first round, losing in six games.

On July 6, 2015, Bucks president Peter Feigin stated if public funding for a new arena fell through, the NBA could have bought the team and moved it to Las Vegas or Seattle. Current Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan combined with Herb Kohl to pledge $250 million for a new arena and sought a match from the public. Of those funds, $93 million would come from the Wisconsin Center District in the form of new debt on Milwaukee citizens. The district would not commence repaying the bonds until 13 years thereafter.[31]

On July 9, 2015, the Bucks confirmed their signing of center Greg Monroe to a three-year, $50 million contract. The Bucks also announced the club's re-signing of Khris Middleton to a five-year, $70 million contract.

On July 15, 2015, the future for the Bucks in Milwaukee was solidified after the Wisconsin State Senate voted 21–10 in favor of a proposal to use public money to help finance a replacement for the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which at the time was the third-oldest arena being used by an NBA team, behind Oracle Arena, and Madison Square Garden.[32][33]

On the court, the young roster of the Bucks went through a step backward, to a 33–49 record in the 2015–16 season, though Giannis Antetokounmpo had an encouraging stretch in the final half of the season, accumulating 5 triple-doubles.

On June 18, 2016, ground was broken for the Bucks' new arena.[34]

On September 19, 2016, the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo agreed to a 4-year, $100 million contract extension. In addition, the team would add new young improvements to the roster in drafting Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon, and made trades to bring in Tony Snell and Michael Beasley. When the 2016–17 season began, the Bucks were without Khris Middleton, who suffered a torn hamstring during a practice. Even so, the Bucks remained competitive, staying around .500 for the first half of the season, with both Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker leading the offense. While Parker missed making the All-Star team, Giannis was voted in as a starter, becoming the first Bucks All-Star since Michael Redd in 2004. In January, the Bucks slumped, though fans anticipated a turnaround with Middleton's return on February 8 against the Miami Heat. In the same game, however, Parker tore his ACL for the second time in 3 seasons, ending his season. Even so, Middleton's return still sparked a turnaround in March. During the month, the Bucks went 14–4, putting the team back in the thick of the playoff race. On April 8, 2017, the Bucks beat the Philadelphia 76ers 90–82, clinching the Bucks a playoff spot. On April 10, the Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 89–79 to clinch only the third winning season for the Bucks since 2001. The team finished the 2016–17 regular season with a 42–40 record. Giannis Antetokounmpo made history, becoming only the 5th player in NBA history to lead his team in all five major statistical categories, and was the first in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in the league in each category. The Bucks were the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and lost in the opening round to the Toronto Raptors, 4–2.

On May 23, 2017, Bucks general manager John Hammond stepped down to become general manager with the Orlando Magic.

On January 22, 2018, the Bucks fired Jason Kidd, who had a 23–22 record in the 2017–18 season. In Kidd's three and a half seasons as head coach, the Bucks had a regular-season record of 139–152 and reached the first round of the NBA playoffs in the 2014–15 and 2016–17 seasons.[35] Bucks' assistant coach Joe Prunty was announced as Kidd's replacement on an interim basis for the rest of the season.[36] Prunty finished the season with a 21–16 record, leading the Bucks to an overall 44–38 record, their best since the 2009–10 season. Seeded seventh in the 2017–18 Eastern Conference playoffs, the Bucks lost the series to the second-seeded Boston Celtics, 4–3.

2018–present: under Mike Budenholzer

On May 17, 2018, the Bucks announced former San Antonio Spurs' assistant coach and former Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer as their new head coach.[9] On August 26, 2018, the Bucks' new arena, Fiserv Forum, opened to the public.

The Bucks stormed through their 2018–19 regular season, racing out to a 25–10 start en route to finishing 60–22, the fifth 60-win season in franchise history and the first time they had won that many in a regular season since the 1980–81 season. They also finished with the league-best record for the second time in franchise history, equalling their 1970–71 championship season. This earned them home-court advantage in any playoff series for the first time since 2001, and only the second time in the new millennium. On April 22, 2019, the Bucks swept the Detroit Pistons for their first playoff series win since 2001. On May 8, they eliminated the Boston Celtics in five games to reach their first Conference Finals since 2001, where they lost to the eventual league champion Toronto Raptors in six games. After the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the league's Most Valuable Player. General Manager Jon Horst won the NBA Executive of the Year award.[37]

In their 2019–20 season, the Bucks clinched a playoff berth after the team's 56th regular-season game, becoming the fastest team to clinch a playoff spot measured by the number of games played and by the calendar date (February 23) since the NBA changed its playoff format in 1984.[38] Following the suspension of the 2019–20 NBA season, the Bucks were one of the 22 teams invited to the NBA Bubble to participate in the final 8 games of the regular season.[39] On August 26, the Bucks’ players refused to play in their playoff matchup against the Orlando Magic following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.[40][41] Antetokounmpo received his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award after returning home from the NBA Bubble upon the Bucks losing in the semi-finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs to the Miami Heat.[42][43] During the first possession of a 2020–21 regular season game against the Detroit Pistons on January 6, both teams took a knee in protest to the announcement that criminal charges would not be filed against police officers in the Blake shooting. The Bucks held the ball for seven seconds in reference to Blake's seven gunshots.[44]

During the offseason, the Bucks signed Giannis Antetokounmpo to a 5-year, $228 million contract extension, the largest contract in NBA history. Along with resigning their superstar, the Bucks also made a trade which resulted in Eric Bledsoe being sent to the New Orleans Pelicans and receiving Jrue Holiday. The Bucks also strengthened their bench with free agent signings of Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes. In their 2020–21 season, the Bucks clinched the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 46–26, as well as their third consecutive Central Division title. It was the third consecutive season the Bucks had a winning percentage of at least .600, the first time it had happened in franchise history since 1984–86. During the season, the Bucks acquired P.J. Tucker to further strengthen their defense for the playoffs.

In the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Bucks began by defeating the Heat in a four-game sweep in the first round in a rematch of the previous year's Eastern Conference Semifinals. They then defeated the Brooklyn Nets (led by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden) in seven games in the Conference Semifinals, culminating with a Game 7 victory on the road at Barclays Center. They then defeated the Atlanta Hawks in six games in the Conference Finals to secure their 3rd NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and their first since 1974. In the NBA Finals, the Bucks faced the Phoenix Suns, who were favored after defeating the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference first round, and won their second NBA championship and their first since 1971 in six games culminating with a 105–98 win in Game 6 at Fiserv Forum. Giannis Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points in the Finals series including a 50-point performance in Game 6.[45]

Ownership

As of July 16, 2015, the following individuals and groups are among the owners of the Bucks: