Bucks raise title banner, open with rout of Nets

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MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks handed out their championship rings and unveiled the banner for the franchise’s first championship in 50 years ahead of Tuesday night’s season-opening 127-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

“Milwaukee, we did it,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said to the crowd at Fiserv Forum during the pre-game ceremony. “We finally did it.”

The NBA had not started a season with a banner-raising ceremony on opening night in two years. With fans still not allowed at the Staples Center at the start of last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Lakers waited until May to unveil their banner.

However, fans in Milwaukee have waited since 1971 for another NBA championship. A sold-out crowd packed inside the arena, and a stage was set up outside in the Deer District for another chance to commemorate the Bucks before a new season began.

“It’s a big night,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “It symbolizes or signifies something special that the team has accomplished. You know you’ll cherish it for the rest of your life.”

Although Giannis Antetokounmpo and Middleton had some input on the design for the championship ring ahead of Tuesday night, players had not seen the rings before the ceremony began. Antetokounmpo joked earlier in the week that his only input was that he wanted a ring bigger than the one his brother Kostas won with the Lakers last season, which he compared to an AirPods case.

And the Bucks’ championship ring is big.

It has 360 diamonds on the top, 16 emerald-shaped diamonds on the left side and 16 emerald-shaped diamonds on the right side. The ring features the phrase “Fear the Deer” on one side along with the player’s name and jersey number. On the other side were the words “Bucks in 6,” the rallying cry adopted by fans during the Finals run. There’s even a removable top with a QR code underneath that when scanned plays video highlights from the season.

“To Milwaukee, the beginning of many, many championships,” Bucks owner Marc Lasry told the crowd during the ceremony.

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