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Milwaukee: Thousands of fans lined the streets of downtown Milwaukee Thursday to catch a glimpse of their beloved dollars in a parade to celebrate the city’s first NBA championship in half a century.
Six policemen on horseback briskly brushed past cheering fans at the head of a procession that included a hook-and-ladder fire engine, occasionally honking its horn, and open-air buses and flatbed trucks They were carrying stars of the bucks, including the finals’ most valuable player, giannis. Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, and the trophy they captured Tuesday night with a Game 6 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Reading: Bucks parade if they win
Fans could be heard chanting “bucks in 6,” a rare but beloved rallying cry rooted in a former Bucks player’s unsuccessful prediction in 2013 that the team would beat the top playoff seeds in that moment.
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antetokounmpo carried his son, 1-year-old liam, atop a bus as fans along the route chanted “mvp!” later, he shot a basketball into the crowd.
“milwaukee, we did it, honey! we did it!” Antetokounmpo told a cheering crowd in the Deer District, the area outside the Bucks’ FiServ Forum. “this is our city, this is our city. man, we did it! amazing.”
neil and rachana bhatia, both 34, from suburban waukesha, took their 1-month-old son zain to the deer district, saying they wanted to give zain an early chance at being a buck fanatic.
neil bhatia called it “surreal” to win the title.
“it unifies the city and puts it on a global stage,” he said. “It’s great for the city and the state. It brings everyone together to celebrate something that hasn’t happened in 50 years.”
said dameon ellzey, longtime bucks fan and milwaukee native: “in my neighborhood, you could hear everyone on their porches yelling. black, white, asian. in a city like milwaukee, that’s big.” .
milwaukee has long been ranked among the most segregated cities in the united states. Team president Peter Feigin in 2016 called it “the most segregated and racist place” he had ever experienced, comments he later softened. As the bucks headed toward a championship this year, some people rejoiced at the diversity of the massive crowds that gathered in deer district to watch the bucks on giant television screens.
The team’s rise has fortified a Midwestern city away from the NBA’s more cosmopolitan hotspots like Los Angeles, Boston or Miami, cities that have traditionally found it easier to attract the game’s best players. One of the reasons fans have embraced Antetokounmpo is his loyalty to the team that drafted him eight years ago when he was 18.
Police estimated that 100,000 people packed the Deer District for game 6 on Tuesday night. Although the coronavirus pandemic has subsided compared to a year ago, the level of cases in both Wisconsin and Milwaukee County is still rated by the state as high, with daily news showing cases in the county roughly tripling in the last two weeks at 80 per day.
City health officials noted Thursday that parade announcements had urged unvaccinated people to wear masks. few were visible among fans on the parade route or outside the arena. the city’s health department said its contact tracing team would closely monitor the event.
julie willems van dijk, deputy secretary of the state department of health services, predicted that the two large gatherings would lead to more covid-19 cases.
“We are concerned,” he said. “We know that people wanted to be jubilant and celebrate, but we know that half the state is fully vaccinated and half is not, and I’m assuming the same is true for people in the deer and sand district. And I didn’t see half the masked crowd.”