Bucks former owner Jim Fitzgerald dies at 86

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MILWAUKEE — Jim Fitzgerald, former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, passed away Monday morning, June 4th. He was 86 years old.

Fitzgerald originally joined the Bucks organization as a member of the team’s board of directors in 1973, and went on to become President and Chairman of the Board in 1976.

The Janesville native held that post until the spring of 1985, when he sold the team to current owner Herb Kohl.

Bucks Vice President of Business Operations John Steinmiller said in a statement Monday: “Jim Fitzgerald was the right man at the right time for the Bucks franchise. He served on the Board of Directors for a short time, and then stepped up to establish a family culture within the organization that still exists today. He was a Wisconsin guy with good business instincts and a competitive spirit who always provided hope. He will be dearly missed by the entire Bucks family.”

Fitzgerald presided over a successful era of Bucks basketball that included the hiring of Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson and a string of seven consecutive division titles from 1979-80 through 1985-86, with teams featuring Bucks legends Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters, Sidney Moncrief and Bob Lanier.

Funeral arrangements for Fitzgerald are pending.