SaveOurBucks.com really does care about the Milwaukee Bucks.
But the website's backers have a funny way of professing their love.
For one, the website's creators — including a mystery man funding the operation — say the franchise is run poorly. Worse, SaveOurBucks says, "the team has faded from the public interest because the team roster and results have been uninspiring to the local fan base and community," according to the group's executive summary.
"For decades, the Bucks have employed a very chaotic management structure that consists of a number of longtime front office people, supplemented by whoever are the head coach and general manager at the time. All of these individuals have some degree of decision-making power, which is either supported or vetoed by the owner, (former) Sen. (Herb) Kohl, on a case-by-case basis."
The group's spokesman, Paul Henning, is a Bucks fan who attends several games a year. But speaking for the group, he doesn't mince words about the Bucks, whose 6-22 currently is the worst record in the National Basketball Association.
"There's some things that need to be said that some people don't want to hear," Henning said Tuesday. "We want to shine a light and we want them to be held accountable."
There is hope, Henning said. Kohl's recent announcement that he had hired a New York investment firm to find new investors for the Bucks, coupled with a renewed community discussion involving a possible new, multipurpose arena are positive developments, Henning said.
"We're not calling for anyone to be fired," Henning said. "We're not saying Herb Kohl must go. He is critical to how this plays out, as is the business community."
There is little known about the man who started the website. That person has not publicly identified himself, and has asked Henning to speak for the group. Henning says he's never met the man, but says he is a season-ticket holder from Milwaukee.
There is an international flavor to the SaveOurBucks movement. Henning says a third person who created the website is from Australia. He became a Bucks fan when Andrew Bogut, a native of Australia, played in Milwaukee and continues to watch and follow them. But the brains behind the site and its ultimate goal — saving the Bucks — prefers to remain anonymous.
"People need to read the entire website or at least the executive summary to understand that the site's goal is to try and bring some accountability to the Bucks for the poor way the front office (and by extension Sen. Kohl) have managed the team the past two decades as it relates to the product on the court," the mystery man behind SaveOurBucks.com wrote in an email to the Journal Sentinel.
Henning separately noted, "We're at a crossroads right now."
He may be right. In a season where the most national publicity the Bucks have gotten involved problems with a Robert Indiana-inspired court surface and a bar fight involving Bucks center Larry Sanders, there is nowhere to go but up.
The group has mostly operated under the radar until recently when it raised enough money from Bucks' fans to put up a billboard at the corner of W. McKinley Ave. and I-43. With a photo of lottery balls in the background, the caption left little to the imagination: "Winning takes balls."
That was SaveOurBucks' not so subtle suggestion that the Bucks need to keep losing to position themselves to get a high draft pick next summer during the NBA draft.
The billboard's message was picked up by Deadspin, the irreverent sports-based website, and SaveOurBucks suddenly had a much bigger following.
"We wanted to make a statement and get the message out," Henning said. "Free agency has not been kind to the Bucks."
Fan turnout hasn't been great, either. The Bucks currently rank 28th out of 30 teams in attendance, drawing an average of 14,139 fans per game. That's a drop of nearly 900 fans a game from last season.
The reason for the lower turnout is simple, says the anonymous head of SaveOurBucks. "We've been beaten down with a terrible product and a front office that has terrible basketball plans that make no sense."
At the same time, he said, local media have not scrutinized the Bucks to any great extent.
John Steinmiller, executive vice president for business operations, said the franchise was aware of SaveOurBucks.
"We value them, and we are aware of them," Steinmiller said. "We don't always agree with the manner of expression or all of the message but they share the senator's plan that he laid out recently to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.
"We certainly will follow their progress. I hope they follow our progress accurately and responsibly."
Steinmiller said Kohl is committed to building a team around a young core of talent, managing the salary cap well and drafting wisely.
"If our fans support that, we support them," Steinmiller said.
In the meantime, SaveOurBucks.com will be watching.