Bango’s Minute – Episode IV: Fear The Deer

Hello everybody, welcome back to Bango’s Minute on Sit back relax, and enjoy. Today, in Bango’s Minute – Episode IV…

Fear the Deer

“Own the Future. Built to Stay. Light it up, light it up – as well as let it fly, let it fly. In recent years, Milwaukee’s invented many slogans and rallying cries to back the Bucks. But there’s one MVP – most valuable phrase – that, no matter what, rises above the rest: Fear the Deer,” said On Milwaukee author, Matt Muller. As the Milwaukee Bucks headed into the 2019 Playoffs, the words “Fear the Deer”, along with pictures of the players, were put up onto the glass that was looking out of the Buck’s new arena, Fiserv Forum. Fear the Deer is a calling sign for all Bucks fans. If you were to walk down the streets of Milwaukee, and say Fear the Deer, to them, they would know what you’re talking about. Fear the Deer stands for what the Bucks are all about, and what they mean to Milwaukee. However, for a while, I have wondered where this slogan came from, and more about it in general. Here is what I’ve learned.

Let me start with where the famous Bucks slogan originated. The answer to this question goes back around ten years, back to when Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut were leading the squad. Some say that the slogan originated as a hashtag on Twitter, when others say that it originated from a chant that was started by the Bucks fan section, the Clutch Crew. But the origin of Fear the Deer may have not been in Milwaukee, but rather, in… Bristol, Connecticut? If you don’t know where Bristol is, it is a smaller suburb of Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, with a population of 60,000. What is in Bristol that may have come up with the slogan, you may ask? The ESPN Worldwide Headquarters. Bill Simmons, who was writing an ESPN column at the time, was recapping a Bucks game against the Atlanta Hawks. Here are a few excerpts of what he said. “Salmons responds to the response with a fadeaway,” said Simmons. “He has 28 for the game and 21 for the half. Playoff basketball! Bucks by three. Crowd alive. Fear the deer. I’ll explain later.” He would later go on to mention Fear the Deer a few more times in this column, Monday Night Diary. “Ridnour grabs the rebound. FEAR THE DEER!” He would also go on to say at the end of his section on the Bucks game, “You’re damned right I fear the deer.” However, it’s what he said in the middle of all of this that points us in the direction we need to go to see where this slogan may have originated. Here is what he said. “Coming back from the commercial, we see Milwaukee fans holding ‘FEAR THE DEER’ signs. That started about a week ago when an ESPN announcer screamed it during a highlight. The rest was history. And you know what? I’m into it.” Who was that ESPN announcer? We found the final piece of the puzzle in an article published in late 2010, by Adam Fusfeld of Business Insider. Here is what he said. “While anchoring SportsCenter last year [end of 2010], ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt exclaimed ‘Fear the Deer’ over Milwakee Bucks’ highlights.” So now you know. It wasn’t the Bucks themselves that came up with a clever slogan, as they had done before and will have kept doing in the future, it was one of the main hosts of ESPN’s SportsCenter that came up with a Bucks catchphrase that is still being used with the team today! As the team has moved through the 2000’s, many different slogans have come and gone. Having tried “Work Hard, Play Hard” in 2009-10, “Our Team, Our Town” in 2004-05, “Ready to Rise” in 2008-09, and “Where Amazing Happens” in 2007-08. In the late 2000’s “Fear the Deer” (a slogan that the team didn’t even come up with) would become the most popular slogan for the team that would last for the entirety of the next decade. 

This lead the team to trademark the phrase, which has become a staple of the team’s marketing and culture. On October 3rd, 2015, the team announced their Fear the Deer Uniforms and Court, marking the first time in NBA history that a team had created an alternate court to go along with the alternate jerseys. Here is what the Bucks would say as they unveiled their jerseys during the Third-Annual Bucks Fan Fest. “The new Fear the Dear platform strips away the periphery of the Bucks brand, leaving the focus squarely on the team and setting a simple, aggressive tone. The new uniforms have been stripped of their base color and traditional front wordmark, leaving just the imposing new Bucks logo on a black backdrop.” That season, the team would only bring out the Fear the Deer jerseys and court four times. The Bucks Pro Shop would line their shelves with the new jerseys and team gear branded with the Fear the Deer slogan. Last season, as they began their first season at Fiserv.Forum, the team unveiled an updated Fear the Deer court, and going into this season, the team updated their Fear the Deer uniforms. These would feature stripes across the middle with the Bucks logo on top of the stripes, what the team would call the Cream City Rainbow. The jersey would keep the black backdrop, making the jerseys look more intimidating than ever. Here is what Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate, WISN, said as the team was heading into the 2019 playoffs. “As part of ‘Bucksifying’ Milwaukee, the Bucks are throwing a big party on the Fiserv Forum plaza Saturday and Sunday.” “We’re going to have Fear the Deer Fridays where we’re going to ask everyone to wear their favorite Bucks clothes to school or to work,” Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry said. Lasry said at the heart of a successful playoff run will be the fans. And compared to prior experiences in the playoffs, 2019 was successful for the Bucks, making it within 2 games of the NBA Finals. 

As the Bucks head back from the All-Star Break, into the second half of the season, the team will need the fan’s support. I could say that this Bucks team has a great chance to reach 70 wins in the regular season, and make, or maybe even win, the NBA Finals. But as fans, we need to keep supporting our team as they push forward. As they make a name for Milwaukee, and the whole state of Wisconsin. We need to tell the world to Fear. the. Deer.

Thank you for reading this week’s Bango’s Minute, and remember, GO BUCKS!