Brandon Jennings, former Bucks point guard and creator of the now iconic phrase “Bucks in 6”, is a legend. This is especially true now that Milwaukee won the 2021 NBA title in six games. Let’s take a look back on the man who has cemented himself in Bucks history.
Jennings started to make a name for himself during his freshman and sophomore years. He played for Dominguez High School in California, close to where he grew up. Later, he transferred to the prestigious prep-hoops powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. This infamous Virginia boarding school has had a plethora of NBA stars come through its doors over the years.
In high school, Jennings was the type of player that younger generations gravitate towards. He had elite ball handling skills and an amazing pull-up jumper game. His flashy play was a catalyst for the popularity of prep-hoops YouTube outlets that dominate the social media scene today. A YouTube search of his own highlight reels will show videos with millions of views. Jennings came out of high school as the consensus number one recruit in the country by most recruiting sites.
After graduating, Jennings was planning on returning home to California to play basketball for USC. However, he then set his sights on playing professionally overseas for a year. At the time, doing so straight out of high school was not a common path for American players to take.
Jennings joined Lottomatica Roma of the Italian Serie A. He also received an incredible two-million dollar endorsement contract with Under Armour, who wanted to showcase their merchandise in the EuroLeague. While overseas, he struggled for the first time in his basketball career, with poor shooting stints in his games abroad.
The Big Leagues: NBA
As a result, the uncertainty surrounding Jennings carried over to the NBA. It led him to fall to the 10th pick of the 2009 NBA draft, where the Milwaukee Bucks happily scooped him up. Jennings joining the Bucks as a point guard immediately lit a fuse under the team. He started every game as a rookie and carried Milwaukee to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
The highlight of Jennings’s first year was his performance against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. He scored 55 points that night, in one of the best games in the Bradley Center’s history. His rookie season was special to Bucks fans because it brought hope and excitement to the city.
The following two seasons, Brandon Jennings put up fringe all-star numbers while dealing with some nagging injuries. However, Milwaukee didn’t make the playoffs either of those years. It was frustrating for Bucks fans to see Jennings, after showing so much potential his rookie year, not take that next step towards becoming an elite NBA player.
“Bucks in 6”
Jennings’s fourth season in the NBA (2012-13) was when the famous “Bucks in 6” phrase was coined. Milwaukee endured an up-and-down regular season, and the Bucks made the famous Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis swap. They ended up making the playoffs, hanging onto the eighth seed in the East.
The Bucks had a tall task, facing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade headlining the Heat. Down 2-0 in the series against Miami, Jennings let the famous quote rip. Milwaukee was getting prepared to play game three of the series at the Bradley Center. When asked how he saw the series going, Jennings responded, “Six. We’re going to win in six.” While the Bucks went on to get swept 4-0 by Miami, the irrational confidence of Jennings and his “Bucks in 6” phrase became something fans embraced for years to come.
After his fourth season, Jennings was moved in a sign-and-trade with the Pistons that landed the Bucks Brandon Knight and, more importantly, Khris Middleton. Jennings played three years with the Pistons, dealing with several injuries including an Achilles tear that hampered his career. He then became a journeyman of sorts, having short stints with the Magic, Knicks, and Wizards.
In 2018, Jennings made one last return to his original team. He signed a 10-day contract with Milwaukee, scoring 16 points and 12 assists in a game against the Grizzlies. Having one last great performance in a Bucks uniform was special for Bucks fans. It was also meaningful to Jennings, who was signed for the remainder of the season.
What Made Him So Special?
If you look at Jennings’s career based only on the numbers, you might question what all the fuss is about. To be brutally honest, Jennings never did capitalize on the superstar-upside he flashed coming out of high school.
What makes Jennings so special to Milwaukee is the sense of hope and enthusiasm he brought to the city and his team. He made Bucks basketball exciting for fans, as his persona connected with the Milwaukee fan base. Jennings will also be remembered for the road he helped pave for future players like Emmanuel Mudiay and LaMelo Ball, who pursued careers overseas before going to the NBA.
Brandon Jennings was an essential part of the bridge between the laughing-stock Bucks and the present-day championship caliber teams. He and his “Bucks in 6” chant will always be beloved by Bucks fans, especially after this historic championship run. Nothing will ever change that.
Follow me on Twitter at @Jakegascho and follow us @WiSportsHeroics for more great content! For the latest in Wisconsin sports, click here. Check out our merch page here and use promo code Wisco at check out for $1 off + free shipping!