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One of the NBA’s all-time great scorers finished his career with just a 13-game tenure with the Milwaukee Bucks, which came about through bizarre circumstances.
At the end of an illustrious career that saw him star for the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, Adrian Dantley joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 1991 with hopes of a suitably auspicious finale to a Hall of Fame career.

With the playoffs rapidly approaching, the Bucks were looking to put the finishing touches on what would conclude as a 48-24 regular season when disaster struck.

Dale Ellis, a go-to scorer who was acquired in exchange for Cheap Ricky Pierce Jersey, suffered a herniated disk in a March matchup with the Chicago Bulls, leaving Del Harris’ team in need of an added offensive punch down the stretch and moving into the postseason.

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Dantley presented as a possible solution, but not one without more than his fair share of complications.

Years removed from his prime as a six-time All-Star and two-time scoring champion, Dantley had spent his previous two seasons playing with the Dallas Mavericks, and suffering major injuries in the process.

Alex English started one of the all-time great scoring careers with the Milwaukee Bucks, yet he never truly got going until he played elsewhere.
The Milwaukee Bucks were consistently among the very best of what a stacked Eastern Conference had to offer throughout the 1980s, yet as time has gone on, they’ve become something of a forgotten story from that decade.

As sad as that might be, it’s not all that difficult to understand why it’s the case. For all of their 50-win seasons, the Bucks failed to advance to The Finals during that span, being eliminated by one of the Celtics or 76ers in every season from 1980-81 to 1986-87.

Those Boston and Philadelphia teams are fondly remembered as all-time greats, so what was the real difference that allowed them to get the best of a talented Bucks team season after season?

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In short, the answer was scoring.

Of course, there were other factors — such as the Bucks’ struggles to find a capable center — but more than anything else, Milwaukee didn’t have their own equivalent of a Larry Bird, Julius Erving or Cheap Moses Malone Jersey.

In Cheap Sidney Moncrief Jersey and Marques Johnson, the Bucks had two great players who allowed them to bridge that gap at times, but for as good as that duo were, neither necessarily provided the cold-blooded scoring streak that the Celtics and 76ers received from their stars. That’s not a knock on Moncrief or Johnson either, as it simply wasn’t in their respective nature. Between Moncrief’s defense and Johnson’s playmaking, both were incredibly polished and versatile.

In truth, Moncrief and Johnson’s skills would have made them a perfect fit alongside a more single-minded scorer. The Bucks’ roster was so well-rounded and deep on the whole that the addition of a top-tier offensive player could certainly have pushed them over the edge.

An elite scorer could have made all the difference, and just imagine what the Bucks could have done with the most prolific scorer of that decade on their side?

During the 12-year spell between 1979-80 and 1990-91, the Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs every year, compiling the longest such streak in franchise history. A look at the league’s leading scorers for that total span reads as a who’s who of all-time great scorers, with the top-5 including Bird, Malone, Dominique Wilkins and Adrian Dantley. Still, one man stood above them all by a margin of almost 2,000 points, and he just so happened to have left Milwaukee the summer before that run began.

Alex English was selected by the Bucks with the 23rd overall pick of the 1976 Draft. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s safe to say his draft position wasn’t remotely reflective of his talent, but it was certainly representative of how he was perceived coming into the league after his time with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

English joined a rebuilding Bucks team still recovering from the shock of trading Cheap Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jersey, yet he still never managed to make his way toward the front of Don Nelson‘s pecking order.

As a rookie fighting for wing minutes, English was forced to go up against franchise legend Bob Dandridge, Cheap Junior Bridgeman Jersey, who was the eighth overall pick from the previous year’s draft, and Brian Winters, who was fresh off of an All-Star season in 1975.

The departure of Dandridge the following summer may have offered English some respite, if not for the fact the Bucks had pinned their hopes on another small forward, Cheap Marques Johnson Jersey, with the third overall pick in the 1977 Draft.

In total, English scored 1,100 points in 142 games for the Bucks, and then after two seasons he opted to move on. As explained by’s Legends profile of English:

“Frustrated with his reserve role in his first two seasons, English became a free agent after the 1977-78 campaign. He signed with the Indiana Pacers, who gave the Bucks a first-round draft pick as compensation.”

English’s stay with the Pacers would prove to be even more brief, as after 54 games in his second season with the team while he continued to thrive in an expanded role, Indiana opted to sell high (or at least that’s what they thought) in trading for three-time veteran All-Star George McGinnis. That deal sent English to Denver, and from there, he never looked back.

English carved out an outstanding career with the Nuggets, where he was an eight-time All-Star, made an All-NBA Team on three occasions, and finished as the league’s scoring leader in 1983.

In total, English scored over 22,000 points during the 1980s — for reference, Moncrief’s career spanned close to that same timeframe and he only managed 11,594 points over the same period. English’s career tally of 25,613 is good enough for him to rank 18th among the NBA’s all-time leading scorers through to this very day too.

With that considered, it’s easy to blame the Bucks for letting such a prodigious talent slip through their grasp, and in some ways that’s fair. As English himself is first to admit, though, during his time in Milwaukee he was nowhere near the player he went on to be. Speaking following a 38-point outburst which led the Nuggets to victory over the Bucks in 1984, English noted:

“I have to say I’m about 70 percent better than when I played in Milwaukee. I think I’ve improved in every phase of my game.”

That English improved with increased opportunity isn’t all that surprising, and if anything, the Bucks’ mistake in letting him go should still act as a notable cautionary tale when it comes to failing to provide young players with sufficient minutes and development opportunities.

For as much as English worked on fine-tuning and improving his game, he was also a very interesting figure away from the court.

Fittingly for a man of his name, English graduated with a degree in English, and his love for poetry was highly publicized throughout his playing days. As a result, he was more than a little different to many of his peers.

English has had several books of poetry published over the years, with the first of those, “Sometimey Feelins Sometimes”, published in 1979 shortly after he left Milwaukee. From a Bucks’ perspective, the most notable poem of that collection wan undoubtedly “It’s Time to Go“:

“Autumn’s orange yellow and Rust

paints my mind with outdoor Lust

for freedom of movement about nature’s room.

But autumn’s coming means I’ll be leaving soon

to continue my stroll with destination

And add to memories This summer’s vacation.”

As English explained to the New York Times during his time as a Pacer, the poem was written as a a reflection on his time with the Bucks coming to an end.

“The poem was sort of a reflection of the Milwaukee Bucks giving up on me and not wanting to deal with me after I became a free agent.”

In discussing his own style of play in a 1985 Sports Illustrated profile written by Jack McCallum, English even suggested that some of the same elements that run through his poetry could be found in his game.

“I guess what my game has is kind of an off-balance flow.”

Away from poetry, English’s other interests are also extensive. English has long been an activist, and having campaigned for nuclear disarmament, he took a role alongside Gregory Peck and Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1987 film Amazing Grace and Chuck to allow him to bring that message to a larger audience.

English was also frequently involved in charity work during his time as a player, while along with continuing that in the years since, upon retirement he was hired to be the NBA Player’s Association’s director of player programs and services, which left him “overseeing alcohol, drug-abuse, HIV/AIDS, player-orientation and career-planning programs“.

English has also worked alongside the state department, while according to McCallum’s Sports Illustrated feature, he also considered volunteering for the space station program during the 80s. Summing up what contributed to his various interests and dreams, as well as something that was likely a driver in what made him successful as an athlete, English explained.

“There’s something inside that makes me special. It’s not basketball. It’s the way I perceive things.”

The Bucks could certainly have used that something that made English special beyond the two years he spent in Milwaukee. He could even have been that something that made the Bucks special.

Ironically, much like the legacy of the team he left so early in his career, English has often been overlooked and under-appreciated in the time since his playing days. Most notably, that led to him being left off the NBA’s 50 Greatest List. Speaking to Slam about that exclusion among other things in 2010, English offered the following for why he may have ended up overlooked:

“We didn’t get much media attention in Denver, even though we won. The Nuggets were in the playoffs eight years in a row, and in the Western Conference Finals in ’85.”

That line of thinking would certainly resonate with Milwaukee’s greats from the 80s. In fact that sentiment rings true for much of the Bucks’ existence.

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In many ways, the Bucks and Alex English were likely meant for each other, yet fate conspired against it, and the rest was widely overlooked and underdiscussed history.

Most recently, Dantley’s 1990 season had come to an end after 45 games due to a broken leg. From there, Dantley’s career took a turn that many would have anticipated for a player returning from such a significant injury at 34 years old, yet from the player’s perspective there were larger, potentially more sinister forces at work.

Having opted to enter free agency in the hopes of earning one last lucrative deal, Dantley ended up without a deal when the new season began, and was forced to sit on the sidelines all the way through to signing with the Bucks in April.

By that time an incredibly outspoken individual in the NBA, an article in the Chicago Tribune after he came to terms with the Bucks even suggested Dantley had been blackballed. Speaking on the subject himself, the former Notre Dame man said:

“I knew I was better than a lot of players, but sometimes it works that way. That’s the point we got to. I told my lawyer to say I’d take a step down. Where did I rank between sixth and ninth on teams? It wasn’t even close, but there were a lot of reasons.”

Continuing on that same theme, Dantley relived just how close he came to a deal on multiple occasions before it would all fall apart.

“We’d be almost there and bam, something else would happen. Maybe a trade or the money. I can’t pinpoint one particular thing. It didn’t make sense to me and it still doesn’t, but I have no control over the teams. It did get frustrating, but I never got down.”

All of that ultimately led to the Bucks extending an NBA lifeline to Cheap Giannis Antetokounmpo Jersey Dantley, yet more than any kind of sympathy for his situation, they needed him to perform.

Speaking to the L.A. Times, coach Del Harris noted:

“We feel extremely fortunate that on such short notice we are in a position to acquire such a fierce competitor as Adrian Dantley. I’ve talked with several of our key players and they all have a great deal of respect for his ability and determination.”

For his part, Dantley insisted he never stopped working hard and, although there would be a period of adjustment with a new team, that he’d be able to prove himself once again with the Bucks.

Unfortunately, once the veteran took to the court in competitive action again, that quickly proved not to be the case.

Dantley would appear in 13 games between the regular season and playoffs, remarkably failing to score on three occasions, which was also how many times he managed to score a double digit tally for Milwaukee.

With a total of just 62 points, Dantley’s Bucks average of 5.7 points per game was jarring from a player who’d never previously averaged under 14 points per game for a single season, and did nothing to prevent the Bucks from getting swept in three games in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Upon signing for Milwaukee, Dantley told the Chicago Tribune:

“I feel I’ve got my foot in the door again. I know I’m going to be in the NBA next year, and whoever gets me is going to be very happy they got me.”

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As it turned out, Dantley would never play in the NBA again beyond the 1990-91 season. Upon retiring, Dantley’s NBA legacy was more than secure, with a strange, brief and uninspiring spell with the Bucks as nothing other than the most minor of footnotes.

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