Is Milwaukee Changing Its “Terrible” Reputation?

The Milwaukee Bucks brought the media to Milwaukee for the NBA Finals and reporters are taking note of how great our city is.

Most Milwaukeeans are aware of the unflattering shots a few ESPN hosts fired at the city prior to the start of the NBA Finals.

You remember, right? The “terrible cities” comment about Milwaukee – and Phoenix, for that matter – the home cities of the Bucks and the Suns, who are squaring off in the NBA Finals. Milwaukee is looking to win its first championship since 1971, when Lew Alcindor (who later took the name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Oscar Robertson led the franchise to its lone title. Phoenix, meanwhile, is in search of its first-ever crown. The franchises came into the league together in 1968.

So, what have the national media and outsiders been saying since arriving in Milwaukee? Is it really all that bad?

Folks had a few days to form an opinion as Games 3 and 4 in the series have been played in the Cream City. The Bucks captured both games, including a hard-fought thriller on Wednesday night to even the series as the teams head back to Arizona for Game 5.

Washington Post reporter Candace Buckner offered an interesting take on the situation via Twitter.





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“This is my first extended time in MKE & I’ve found ppl here to be perfectly OK w/ others hating on their city,” Buckner tweeted. “IMO Indy, Detroit, Cleveland have small-market syndrome & are defensive (same for my StL) But Milwaukee? They’re like, we’re not for everybody & we’re cool w/ that.”

Buckner also went on to Tweet about a couple of her new-found favorite spots in Milwaukee – Third Ward eatery Sweetdiner and Downtown footwear retailer Rerocc

Buckner’s initial tweet about Milwaukee led to a slew of responses about the city’s desirability as a travel destination.

“Love Milwaukee. Great sports town,” veteran Associated Press sportswriter Jay Cohen tweeted.

Here are a few of the other responses from the Twitterverse:

ESPN talker Stephen A. Smith took offense to Milwaukeeans directing tweets at him after the Bucks’ convincing Game 3 win as he tried to distance himself from the “terrible cities” comments made by his ESPN “First Take” co-host Molly Qerim Rose.

“I never once called Milwaukee a terrible city,” Smith tweeted. “Get your facts straight. I said I didn’t want to be there and that I was rooting for Atlanta. I don’t like cold weather and gray skies all the damn time. Shoot me!

Smith obviously missed the extended stretch of early summer weather when Milwaukee’s temperatures climbed above 90 with intense humidity. Admittedly, Wednesday’s cloudy skies and an intense thunderstorm a couple hours before tip-off likely didn’t do much for Smith’s mood.

The Bucks win on Wednesday night guaranteed that there would be a Game 6, which will be played Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum, meaning that Smith and the national media throng will have to return to Milwaukee once again, like it or not.



Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.