The Milwaukee Bucks are once again occupying some of the NBA spotlight, thanks to the blockbuster preseason trade for star guard Damian Lillard and a three-year contract extension for Giannis Antetokounmpo worth as much as $186 million.
Together, Lillard and Antetokounmpo are projected to be the first to break the $60 million barrier in annual salary. A key ingredient of the Bucks’ resurgence is the influence of the team’s new co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
The Haslams bought into the Bucks earlier this year, taking on a stake in the Wes Edens-led club at a $3.5 billion valuation. That equity, previously held by Marc Lasry, marked a critical expansion of the Haslams’ sports empire, joining majority holdings in the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and MLS’ Columbus Crew.
“The desire to win is not just for us, although we’re incredibly competitive, but we also recognize how important it is for these communities to have a winning team,” Dee Haslam told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That gets us excited to be part of that story.”
After preventing the Crew from leaving for Texas nearly five years ago, the Haslams have presided over an MLS championship and opened the new Lower.com Field in 2021. The Crew have remained solid performers both on and off the field, particularly relative to their market size.
The Browns, conversely, have been more of a struggle with just one playoff appearance and numerous football leadership changes during the brothers’ 11-year ownership tenure. But the Haslams intend to be active fixtures in the Bucks’ operations.
“We agreed with Wes early on that no matter who the governor was, that any major decision — coach, GM, key player, signing over X amount — we both had to agree, and it’s worked,” Jimmy Haslam said.