The ghosts in the rafters: Retired numbers remind Bucks team how hard it is to win a title

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Sitting in the 200 level of Fiserv Forum, on the opposite side of the team benches, puts you at virtual eye level with the retired numbers in the rafters… it looks like this:

And if you're an older, ahem, more experienced Bucks fan… it's virtually impossible to not stare and reminisce about what could have been for the Bucks in the 1980s.

From left to right, Brian Winters, Bob Lanier, Bobby Dandridge (admittedly briefly at the back end of his career), Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief and Junior Bridgeman all played for the Bucks during a stretch from 1980 to 1987 when the Bucks won at least 50 games every single season. And every single season, they lost in either the Eastern Conference Semis or Finals - ALL SEVEN YEARS - to either the 76ers or Celtics. The 80s Bucks were a consistent juggernaut, always at the top of their division, always one of the league's best defensive teams and had plenty of offense to match. But every year, there stood the Sixers with Julius "Dr J." Erving and Moses Malone and Bobby Jones… or the Celtics with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson…

As mentioned, one of those retired jersey numbers belongs to Marques Johnson, who these days still spends his game nights with the Bucks, now as their TV analyst. A few years ago he did an interview with and showed an evolved view of those 1980s Bucks…

"In hindsight, though — and this hit me about 20 years ago — I started thinking the quality of the players we were going against." Johnson told Steve Aschburner. "I was being guarded by Bobby Jones and having to guard Dr. J at the other end. I’m going against Kevin McHale with his size and reach, and then I’m guarding Larry Bird. I think of all the talent that these teams possessed, and they were just better than us."

So those numbers in the Fiserv Forum rafters serve as a constant, hanging testament to how hard it is to win an NBA title… and that no matter how good you are, sometimes you just run into someone better.

Here's hoping, this season, Giannis and company are the "someone better."

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