MILWAUKEE -- While a new basketball shrine goes up a few blocks away, the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, August 29th released details on a pilgrimage to their original MECCA.
“Aside from [Madison Square Garden], it's a rarity that you get to play in history," Bucks Forward Jabari Parker said.
Fifty days before the tip-off to its 50th anniversary season, the team unveiled the date, opponent and uniforms for its highly-anticipated “Return to the MECCA.” Milwaukee will host the Boston Celtics on Thursday, October 26th.
“We have a responsibility and a commitment and accountability, to really nurture this team as a piece of Milwaukee and a piece of Wisconsin," said Bucks President Peter Feigin.
The game will be televised nationally on TNT, but the location is the most important part. The Bucks and Celtics will meet inside UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, formerly known as the MECCA -- the Bucks' original home from 1968 through 1988.
“Tremendous memories in this building," said former All-Star Jon McGlocklin, who scored the first points in franchise history. "I remember the first game that the Bucks ever played here against the Chicago Bulls. I remember coming out of the tunnel.”
While they won’t be playing on the iconic Robert Indiana-designed court -- that wasn’t installed until 1977 -- McGlocklin said he sees this trip back in time as a way to connect current players to the past.
“It’s a good time for the NBA to bring history to these guys, and let them know, ‘hey guys, this is the foundation that got you where you are today,'" McGlocklin said.
Parker wouldn’t mind if that history repeated itself. In 20 years at the MECCA, the Bucks made the playoffs 16 teams, won 12 division titles and the 1971 NBA Championship.
“We can be just like them. It takes years, but if we get everybody back then that would be a big possibility," said Parker, whose father, Sonny, played in the MECCA as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
It’s a chance to dream, in a building where so many came true.