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MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks wasted no time introducing Jabari Parker to his new city, and the No. 2 overall pick wasted no time endearing himself to it.
The Bucks held an afternoon news conference at the downtown Milwaukee Public Market about 16 hours after Parker was taken second overall in the 2014 draft.
"No better place to be," Parker said Friday. "I feel welcome."
This could be a perfect marriage, and the Bucks are eager to begin the honeymoon.
Parker grew up 100 miles south of downtown Milwaukee, starring at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago for four years before heading to Duke University for one season.
His family and friends, including former Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski, the new head coach at Marquette, took up the first two rows of seats at the introduction as a couple hundred fans crammed into the market's balcony to cheer on Parker. One man yelled "MVP!" before Parker took the stage.
Bucks general manager John Hammond began the introduction by noting how important it was that "Jabari Parker welcomed the idea to be a Milwaukee Buck."
"This is a great opportunity for us as an organization," Hammond said. "To have a player like this, we can't emphasize this enough. One part is Jabari Parker the player. But more important to us in the long run is going to be Jabari Parker the man and what he stands for."
|Jabari Parker is eager to get started in Milwaukee with coach Larry Drew (left) and GM John Hammond. "I don't look forward to leaving anytime soon," Parker said. "I keep that in my heart. If I just look at it as a short-term deal, things won't work out."|
On draft night, Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward, got off to the right start with Bucks fans when he said he wanted to spend his entire career in Milwaukee.
Although that's not binding, it's certainly a reassuring statement for a small-market team.
"I'm really honest," Parker said Friday. "I don't look forward to leaving anytime soon. I keep that in my heart. If I just look at it as a short-term deal, things won't work out."
With new ownership taking over the team, the Bucks are looking to build a buzz and, most importantly, get approval for a publicly financed stadium to replace the Bradley Center.
Hammond said they fell in love with Parker during the draft process, and Parker said he was comfortable with coach Larry Drew and the front office.
"The most important thing was the organization was all-in," Parker said. "I just had to roll with somebody who was very honest with me and was going to be frank. I just appreciate somebody taking me."
Bucks fans are excited to have a superstar-type player, as it has been 20 years since the Bucks landed Glenn Robinson, a native of Gary, Indiana, with the No. 1 pick.
"I got real emotional outside the media," Parker said. "Because I put in a lot hard work to be in this situation. It wasn't given to me. I didn't have lot of hype. Everything was earned. I want to keep that mentality, as coming in as an underdog. I'm coming to an underdog program."
Parker won four state titles for Simeon, where he was the first freshman to start and was the top college recruit in the country.
Parker said he was relieved to be close to home and friends, introducing Wojciechowski as "the man who's going to sign those checks when I babysit his kids."
His agent, B.J. Armstrong, won three titles with the Chicago Bulls and represents fellow Simeon star Derrick Rose, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2008.
Parker, whose father, Sonny Parker, played in the NBA, showed an impressive knowledge of the Bucks' past, name-dropping Oscar Robertson ("The Big O"), Bob Lanier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The 19-year-old also claimed he was a fan of the Bucks team that made the 2001 Eastern Conference finals, mentioning Robinson, Sam Cassell, Ray Allen and Tim Thomas.
"I was up the street watching them when the Bulls were struggling," he said.
Now, Parker admitted it will be weird to be rivals with Rose and the Bulls.
"It's going to be tough, seeing my Bulls," Parker said. "It's going to be also great, like a homecoming again. Getting the chance to play against my guy Derrick Rose, it's going to be really exciting."