by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Until yesterday, the most interesting thing I could tell you about the city of Milwaukee was this: “Happy Days.” The TV show. Remember? The Fonz. Richie Cunningham, Howard, Marion? They all lived in Milwaukee. Supposedly. With that little girl, what’s her name, Joanie? I think it’s Joanie. And Laverne and Shirley. They lived there, too. With Lenny and Squiggy.

What a town.

Other than that, however, I was a big blank on Milwaukee. Boston, I know. Los Angeles, I know. But tonight begins the Eastern Conference semifinal playoffs between Milwaukee’s Bucks and our Pistons. And while the executives at CBS apparently reacted to a Detroit-Milwaukee ratings forecast by sticking their heads in the oven and saying “Go ahead. Just gas us now and get it over with,” I think we should know a little more about the enemy.

So I spent all day in the library. Actually, not all day, because I had to eat lunch, and had a doctor’s appointment, and the dog needed his shots. Then I took a nap. And another lunch. So, let’s say three hours. I spent three hours in the library. One hour. Almost. Studying Milwaukee. Fifteen minutes. And I have prepared a quiz.

This will help you better enjoy the upcoming series. These first questions are basic facts we should all know about Milwaukee and its wonderful history. Everyone got a pencil? Begin. 1. Milwaukee is in . . . a. America. b. trouble against the Pistons. c. Wisconsin. 2. Milwaukee is nicknamed “The Cream City” because a. Cream Abdul-Jabbar once played there. b. the Half-&-Half City sounded stupid. c. lots of dairies. 3. Old Milwaukee is “the beer that made Milwaukee . . . a. burp.” b. pass out.” c. famous.” 4. A good Milwaukee breakfast consists of a. bratwurst and a beer. b. cereal and beer. c. bratwurst and two beers.

How did you do? Great. Now that you have mastered those basic facts, let us move on to the team itself, the Milwaukee Bucks. The first thing you must know is that Kareem Abdul- Jabbar no longer plays for them. Neither does Oscar Robertson. And Don Nelson is not their coach. If any of this surprises you, may I suggest the Elvis movie on Channel 20.

The Bucks have defeated the Pistons four of six times this season, although it is rumored that the Pistons were awake for only two of those games. How much do you know about the Milwaukee players? Yes, half of them are in bandages. But you need to know more. Ready? 5. Terry Cummings is a. injured. b. really Terry Cunningham, Richie’s brother. c. not related to Pat Cummings. d. the Bucks’ starting forward. 6. Paul Pressey is a. injured. b. Elvis’ cousin. c. no match for Joe Dumars. d. the Bucks’ starting guard. 7. Jack Sikma is a. injured. b. known for his clutch free throws. c. getting a little old, don’t you think? d. the Bucks’ center. 8. Del Harris is a. injured. b. not as sharp a dresser as Chuck Daly. c. the guy who takes the Harris polls. d. the Bucks’ coach.

All right. Put your pencils down. It is time for the visual part of the exam. Observe the following pictures carefully before answering: 9. Who is this man? a. Norman Bates. b. a Hare Krishna

songwriter. c. the loser of the Boston

Marathon. d. Fred Roberts, Bucks’

forward. 10. Who is this man? a. Irving Chomsky, deli owner. b Lenny, or maybe Squiggy? c. Sidney Moncrief. d. Paul Mokeski, Bucks’ forward.

OK. End of test.

Tally them up. If you got:

A) 1-3 correct: You know as much about the Bucks as the average fan, which is probably enough.

B) 3-6 correct: You should spend more time with your kids.

C) 6-9 correct: You are a basketball nut, used to live in Milwaukee, have a cable dish, or are very bored at your current job.

D) 10 correct: Have another beer. Your cereal is getting soggy.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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