Andrew Bogut is buying 100 lower level tickets to every Bucks home game. If the invited fans don't continue to make noise, or miss 3 games they are not invited back. He still needs a few more. This is a respectable and cool move on Boguts part.
MILWAUKEE -- Joakim Noah got the treatment from Squad 6.
"Dude looks like a lady,'' the fans screamed at the long-haired Chicago center.
Stephen Jackson also got it.
"Who's your next team?'' they yelled at Jackson, who recently joined Charlotte, his sixth outfit in 10 NBA seasons.
Then there's Orlando's Dwight Howard. As he toed the free-throw line, "Superman'' heard a group of fans yelling "Superwoman.''
"Vince Carter and Jason Williams were just staring up at us,'' fan Joe Woelfel said of Howard's teammates. "They looked kind of upset.''
Which means Squad 6, a group of superfans at the Bradley Center, must be doing its job.
Squad 6 is the brain child of Andrew Bogut, a Milwaukee center who got tired of the loudest sounds at home games sometimes being the ball dribbled up the court. Fan Steve Gill said in recent years the "place had been a library.''
But no longer. Bogut is buying 100 tickets per game this season at the top of the lower bowl and distributing them to fans.
The fans are known as Squad 6 because of Bogut's uniform number and because they're the Bucks' sixth man. But there are rules if one wants to remain a member and keep getting tickets free that have a face value of $96.
You've got to stand the entire game and cheer like heck. You've got to wear Bucks gear. And, when it comes to painting your face, that might be assumed.
"I saw a couple of fans in Houston singing and stuff,'' Bogut said of why he decided to form Squad 6. "I wanted to do something for the atmosphere at the Bradley Center. So we had auditions. It was basically the crazier and louder you are, the more of a chance you had of getting free tickets. ... But, if you're in the squad and somebody sees you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, you don't get tickets for the next game.''
Bogut, making $10 million this season, estimates he will spend close to $100,000 this season on tickets for these wild fans. While at face value 100 $96 tickets for 41 home games would equal $393,600, Bogut gets some tickets complimentary and discounts on others.
Still, a NBA player forking over nearly six digits to give free tickets to hardcore fans? Nobody could be found who knows of anybody else having done this.
"I've never heard of this idea before,'' said John Hammond, in his second season as Bucks general manager. "It's been the best thing that has happened to our arena in a year at least. It's kind of a collegiate feel. It's bringing fun and frolics to a professional arena. ... Senator (Herb) Kohl (the Bucks owner) said that, if we can have a hundred of them in each corner, that would really change our building.''
It's already changed things for the Bucks, who, with exciting rookie guard Brandon Jennings also helping plenty, are 7-2 at home and 9-8 overall after being picked to be an NBA bottom feeder. Squad 6 members look like they're doing jumping jacks the entire game as they cheer on their beloved Bucks.
Some shake cowbells. Some take shirts off to display numbers painted on their chests of favorite Bucks players.
Many drink beer. After all, this is Milwaukee.
The fans, mostly young men ranging from college age into their 30s, pay homage to Bogut being from Australia. Woelfel, a Marquette senior, has brought a didgeridoo, a long, wooden Australian instrument, to games. The fans regularly chant, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!''
"This is wonderful to get a free ticket like this,'' said Squad 6 member Nick Honeck, 27, wearing during a recent game a Bogut No. 6 jersey and shaking a Bucks flag and a cow bell. "I would always be the person in the stands screaming and everybody would be looking at me like I'm weird. But now I'm here with all the people doing it. It's wonderful. Andrew Bogut is awesome for doing it. This is where the true diehards are. Now we have a place to go.''
After Bogut came up with the idea, he went to Bucks public relations officials. Soon, auditions were set up for fans to prove they are diehards.
Bogut was going to serve as a judge for one, but he came down with a migraine headache and couldn't make it. But more auditions could be in the works, and he wants to be there.
"People had 30 to 60 seconds to show why they're a Bucks fan,'' Zak Grim, the director of Squad 6 who works with the Bucks in game operations, said of the auditions. "We had people that came up with Bucks raps. We had a duo who did a skit where LeBron James tried to do his powder thing. One of them played LeBron James and the other came over and just knocked him down and started chanting for the Bucks.''
In order to get free tickets, fans also have been able to send in videos and photos or go through telephone interviews. So far, just about everybody who has put effort into becoming a member of Squad 6 has been given a ticket to at least one game.
But no member is safe. While often leading routines, Grim, a burly man who could moonlight as a bouncer, eyes the group carefully to make sure everybody is cheering appropriately. Slackers won't be invited back.
Grim said nobody has been cut yet because of inferior cheering but there have been nearly 10 booted due to attendance problems. An unexcused absence from three games and you're on the waiver wire.
While Grim said the 100 spots are close to filling up, there are still some available. Those interested can go to the team Website or check out Squad 6 on Facebook.
"It's an awesome idea,'' Bucks guard Luke Ridnour said of Bogut's creation. "(The fans have) been into the game cheering the whole time. It's like an overseas crowd. They're always yelling chants and jumping up and down.''
The fans have had an impact on games. Grim cited several examples of opposing players taking quick shots after Squad 6 members counted down the shot clock starting at five when the clock actually was at seven.
One of those players was Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki in a Nov. 16 game. But don't think for a minute Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, on hand that night, doesn't like Squad 6.
"When we were in Milwaukee, everybody on our bench commented on how fun that group was,'' Cuban wrote in an e-mail, noting Dallas has a Painted Fan promotion in which fans who paint themselves with Mavericks colors get free lower-level standing-room tickets in order to jump around and make noise. "They were bouncing and singing all game long.
"Some people mistakenly think our product at games is basketball. It's not. It's creating a unique experience for people of all ages to come out and get away from the real world and have fun. ... Painted Fans, (Squad 6) are just the equivalent of the crazy aunt and uncle who make weddings fun. Everyone loves them.''
Games have seen Squad 6 members show up in full Bucks mascot gear (that's right, they looked like deer), crazy wigs and Afros. Woelfel doesn't play his didgeridoo, but he shakes it while jumping up and down, which apparently is good enough.
"I'm not going to give a ticket to somebody who just sits there,'' Bogut said. "That's not what we want. But they've been great. It's been awesome. They get the rest of the crowd involved.''
They even get Bogut involved. He admitted he was laughing to himself at the free-throw line when Squad 6 got on the long-haired Noah earlier this week.