Jabari Parker is not playing a part in the Milwaukee Bucks’ upset threat against the Toronto Raptors, but it is safe to say that the former No. 2 overall pick is really into this series. A 1,500-plus-word opus for The Players’ Tribune provides a fairly clear indication of that notion.
The intermittently blossoming talent, once again sidelined with a torn ACL, uses this letter to relay how important the city of Milwaukee has been to helping him recover. While he doesn’t really get into specifics, his essay makes it pretty clear he has no desire to leave the state of Wisconsin any time soon. He becomes a restricted free agent after next season.
“Milwaukee, man … it’s home,” Parker wrote. “You know I’m a Chicago kid, and Chicago will always have a big piece of my heart. But with Milwaukee — for me it was just love at first sight. As soon as I got here, I was like, Wow, this is the place for me. I love this city.
“Honestly, I love this city so much that it scares me sometimes, in a way, you know? Like, I’ve seen other guys get traded and leave since I’ve been here … and you realize, Wow, as players we really don’t have that much control over it all. But one thing I do have control over, regardless of my playing career, is knowing that I want to raise my own family here someday. It’s that deep.”
The 22-year-old forward goes on to illustrate, in detail, how this team doesn’t need the kind of hype the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors receive and provides expansive insight into what each healthy Bucks’ cog means to the No. 6 seed’s effort.
“Something special is happening — and it’s not happening because of a couple of lucky bounces,” Parker added. “It’s happening because my guys are for real. And because they’re going out there, and doing in prime-time what we’ve been doing all season: Just playing our game.”
He was averaging a career-best 20.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. After a torn ACL in his rookie year limited Parker to 25 games, he played in just another 51 this season. He underwent surgery in February and would stand a good chance of being ready by if not the start of next season but the start of next year.