Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson sends sausage, cheese to ESPN to head off ‘terrible city’ repeat
Making sure to flash that sparkling Bucks championship ring on his hand, new Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson prepared a taped message and some delectable gift baskets for ESPN's “First Take” as the 2022 NBA playoffs begin.
His goal: To make sure the commentators — namely Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim and Kendrick Perkins — avoid the "terrible city" discourse of 2021, when they intimated they'd be averse to visiting Milwaukee if the Bucks made it to the NBA Finals.
"You don't know what you're missing," Johnson said in the taped video for “First Take” that aired Monday. "Stephen A, Molly, Kendrick, you had some harsh words about my city last year, and you were wrong about Milwaukee.
"You saw the large crowds in front of Fiserv Forum during the NBA finals. Milwaukee is an enthusiastic sports town. We also are a city with wonderful quality of life, a beautiful lakefront, great restaurants and museums. We're a city that loves to celebrate. We'll celebrate almost anything in Milwaukee, so bring First Take to Milwaukee, and we'll celebrate that, too. Bucks in Six. Go Milwaukee Bucks."
In fairness, it was Damien Woody and not Kendrick Perkins who was part of the show last year when both Milwaukee and Phoenix were lumped in with the label. Smith wound up traveling to Milwaukee anyway when the Bucks made the Finals.
Johnson sweetened the pot with gift baskets that included an assortment of Wisconsin delicacies, like cheese and sausage.
Smith seemed unimpressed but did explain himself.
"In all seriousness, we didn't talk about the city of Milwaukee in that way," he said. "Dammit, it was cold. I don't like the cold. I don't like the fact your room service closed at 7 p.m. I'm fully aware that you have nice restaurants ... one of my best friends in the world is a guy by the name of Garry D. Howard, who was the former executive sports editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for more than a decade."
That's right, a Journal Sentinel shout out!
"It's a great city, great fan base, great restaurants, great people and you have a great superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo who personifies everything we want our superstars to be on and off the court. It's just too damn cold most of the year, and I'm not apologizing for that."
We, uh, won't tell Stephen A. that it was snowing earlier Monday. In the middle of April.
Smith also said he didn't love the hot dog he had at Fiserv Forum. Perkins said the gateway to his heart was indeed food.
Among the items in the basket: Indulgence Chocolatiers chocolate bars, Lush Popcorn, Klement’s bratwursts and four-cheese smoked sausage, Klement’s original summer sausage, World Milwaukee coasters, Well Told rock glasses, Collectivo coffee bags, Sargento cheddar and mozzarella, two bottles of Door Peninsula wine from Sturgeon Bay, gift certificates to the MECCA Sports Bar and Grill and The Cluckery, Milwaukee tote bags and Bucks merchandise from the Bucks Pro Shop.
The Bucks teamed up with Johnson and Visit Milwaukee to craft the message.