Ray Allen enjoyed playing in Milwaukee for the first seven years of his National Basketball Association career.
And the current Miami Heat player has a word of warning for those in Milwaukee who might take the Bucks for granted.
"I think they can support a team, but it's one thing to say if you can or cannot support a team," Allen said in a recent interview. "You've really got to put your best foot forward."
The Bucks are playing in the aging BMO Harris Bradley Center, one of the oldest facilities in the league. They currently rank 27th among 30 league teams in attendance with an average of 13,904 fans, and that number was boosted by Saturday's sellout against the Heat (18,717 is capacity).
A serious conversation has yet to get under way about a new arena or the long-term viability of Milwaukee as an NBA market. But Bucks owner Herb Kohl signaled his intention to jump-start the process at a news conference last year, when he talked about the need for a modern arena and community involvement.
Naming rights were sold and corporate sponsors recruited for each of the four gates at the arena, through an effort coordinated by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. The gates are sponsored by Kohl's Department Stores, Miller Lite, Northwestern Mutual and Potawatomi Bingo Casino.
And in October a six-year lease agreement was reached between the Bradley Center and the Bucks, extending through Sept. 30, 2017.
"You could do something great in this city if everybody put their best foot behind it," Allen said.
Allen has played in Seattle, a city that lost its franchise to Oklahoma City and now has plans to build a new arena in an effort to lure an NBA team.
"The mistake that the team, the city can make, is if you don't prepare for your future, you'll start looking around and saying it (the arena) is antiquated," Allen said. "And the team will have to move just to keep up or compete.
"Then it will be too late. So around here you've got to start jumping ahead of the curve."