Bucks send special ping-pong balls to 10,000 fans to drum up excitement for draft lottery

Dan Devine

There wasn't very much for fans of the Milwaukee Bucks to hang their hats on this year. The Bucks' annual attempt to vie for the eighth seed fell woefully short, as their expected defensive centerpiece went through myriad off-court issues that had on-court ramifications, their free-agent additions didn't really pan out, their trade for a hometown hero didn't amount to much, and they lost so much that their first-year head coach got consolation calls from his colleagues. The "stuff to root for" department was just about solely occupied by exciting Greek rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, a sale (eventually completed) that would keep the franchise in Wisconsin, Y2K Night, and losing enough games to earn a high-lottery pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

Last season's now over for the Bucks, though, and they did meet defeat often enough to post the NBA's worst record and secure top odds in the 2014 draft lottery. Milwaukee fans can put all those bummers behind them and focus on the future, and the Bucks are aiming to help them do that with a unique little promotional push:

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With the 2014 lottery coming up next Tuesday, May 20, the team has sent "select fans" Bucks-branded ping-pong balls accompanied with a mailer that reads, “OWN THE FUTURE. WIN THE LOTTERY.”

While the Bucks have the highest likelihood of any lottery team of landing the No. 1 pick, the odds still aren't in their favor; as the former commissioner made sure to remind us all, the team with the NBA's worst record gets only a 25 percent chance of selecting first overall. Still, no matter how the ping-pong balls bounce, the lowest the Bucks can sink is No. 4, and in a draft featuring multiple top-tier prospects, Milwaukee feels confident that it'll land a difference-maker.

"Regardless of whether we end up with the first pick, the fourth pick, or either pick in between, we know that another big-time talent is going to be calling Milwaukee home this season, and that is something to get excited about," Bucks vice president of marketing Dustin Godsey told BDL in an email. "We want to use the Lottery to continue the conversation with fans about the future, while also giving them a compelling reason to come on board and purchase tickets now."

Hence the surprise bonus ping-pong ball and accompanying mailer, which went out to "approximately 10,000 fans in the Milwaukee area," including past season-ticket holders and "others that we identified as good prospects (sorry for the draft pun) to be interested in being a part of our future," Godsey wrote.

The accompanying card included information about a sweepstakes promotion that the team's running in conjunction with the lottery — fans who buy 2014-15 ticket plans before May 21 (the day after the lottery) will have the chance to win a variety of prizes, including a chance to attend a Bucks draft workout, an autographed photo of the draftee, a trip to the 2014 NBA draft in Brooklyn, N.Y., and even free season tickets. The Bucks are also running a social media contest centered on fans sharing photos of their personal "good luck" charms in the run-up to the lottery, with the winner receiving two full season tickets and a hat autographed by the player the Bucks pick.

Such promotions — while creative and interesting — aren't especially meaningful in a big-picture sense. But after a season that saw Bucks fans literally renting billboards to beg the Bucks to lose so that a proper rebuild could commence, reaching out to the fans with a symbol of shared ownership in the next chapter of the franchise's history does seem to send a positive sign to a fan-base that's been left without very many of them in recent years. With a little bit of luck and the right combination of ping-pong balls, another one could be coming very shortly.

Hat-tip to Rob Mahoney at The Point Forward.

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Dan Devine

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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