See photos of Bucks’ NBA championship parade and celebration in downtown Milwaukee

Giannis Antetokounmpo holds the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship trophy and his NBA Finals MVP trophy at the Bucks NBA championship celebration.
Giannis Antetokounmpo hoists the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Trophy while holding the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

Last updated on July 26th, 2021 at 11:32 am

The Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA championship celebration continued today with a parade through downtown Milwaukee, culminating in a celebration ceremony that again flooded the Deer District with tens of thousands of fans. 

The Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night secured the second-ever NBA title in franchise history, but today’s parade was a first. The 1971 NBA champion Bucks team didn’t get a parade.

Fans of all ages lined the parade route, which started at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, and ran west on Wisconsin Avenue, north on Water Street, over the Milwaukee River and into Deer District. Bucks players, coaches, owners and staff waved at the crowd, hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy and posed for photos from a fleet of double decker tour busses. Once the group arrived at Deer District for the celebration, Bucks players and owners and local officials took the stage — set up on the empty lot directly north of Fiserv Forum — and spoke about what a championship means for the team and the city of Milwaukee.

The ceremony ended in confetti, fireworks, and a rendition of ‘We Are the Champions’ by the Bucks’ national anthem singer Ben Tajnai.

“The Bucks have done something that is sorely needed in this community, in this state and in this nation,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “They have brought people together of all ages, of all races, of all nations. They are the unifiers.”

Other dignitaries who took part in Thursday’s festivities were Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, as well as former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. 

Kohl owned the Milwaukee Bucks from 1985 to 2014. When he sold the team to current majority owners, New York-based billionaires Marc Lasry, Wesley Edens, Jamie Dinan and Mike Fascitelli, it was under the condition that they’d keep the team in Milwaukee. Kohl’s end of the deal included $100 million to help construct the $524 million Fiserv Forum. The Bucks’ historic championship run has sparked renewed appreciation and praise for Kohl’s influence on keeping the team in Milwaukee.

Marc Lasry began his remarks by thanking Kohl: “None of this could have happened without him.”

David Crowley also thanked Kohl for “making sure that the Bucks stay right here,” before declaring July 22 ‘Bucks in Six Day’ throughout Milwaukee County. Evers earlier today declared this to be ‘Bucks in Six Day’ in Wisconsin.

“Seven years ago we made the investment in the team … and this was the plan,” said Wesley Edens, motioning to the sea of fans covering a portion of the 30-acre Bucks-owned district that’s become a symbol of downtown Milwaukee’s renaissance.

“From the first minute of the first day, we wanted to bring a championship to this town, and we did it by putting out a plan and following the plan,” said Edens. “We hired the best people … We built the most beautiful arena to play in, and hell, we already had the best fans.”

The packed post-parade celebration was the last of what’s become a weekly occurrence in downtown Milwaukee as the Bucks’ competed for the championship title. Deer District’s NBA playoff watch parties drew tens of thousands of fans on game nights, capturing the attention of the national media throughout the team’s playoff run. On Tuesday night, more than 65,000 people descended upon the area to watch the Bucks take the Phoenix Suns in six.

“Deer District is now a household name,” sad Bucks sideline reporter Zora Stephenson on Thursday while emceeing Thursday’s celebration party.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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