MILWAUKEE — It’s the “court that made Milwaukee famous.” The floor at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, formerly known as the MECCA, was replicated for the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics game on Thursday, October 26th.
It’s where they won a national championship, it’s where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became a star — and for one night, it once again became the home court of the Milwaukee Bucks.
In the old hallways of the former Mecca arena, the Milwaukee Bucks official score keeper, Bob Wanek, is hard at work in a building he used to be in nearly every night.
FOX6’s Ben Handelman: “What’s it like walking around this concourse?”
FOX6’s Ben Handelman: “The locker room as you go in?”
Wanek: “That was my locker room.”
For one night only, the Bucks made a “Return to the MECCA” — an ode to the team’s historic past; celebrating its 50th year.
Wanek has been there for all of them. He’s not the only one feeling nostalgic.
“It was like stepping into yesteryear,” said a Bucks’ fan.
“The whole atmosphere brings back memories walking through the front door,” said another Bucks’ fan.
The Bucks played at the MECCA from their beginnings in 1968, until they moved to the BMO Harris Bradley Center in ’88. When the Bucks moved into the MECCA, color television was just taking off and they had the court to go with it. They brought the replica of their famous court back and brought fans back to their childhood.
“It was super cool,” said a Bucks’ fan.
Wanek says he used to have to use a payphone to call in the score to New York, then mail the official stats to each team each night. Stats are delivered a little faster these days. Wanek says he doubts another game will be played at the MECCA, and that’s OK. The future is a pretty good place as well.