Bucks ac­ro­bats go­ing to All-Star week­end

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - James B. Nel­son

Six months ago, few peo­ple knew of the en­er­getic ac­ro­bats now called the Bucks Trick­ers.

The group, an off-shoot of the Elite Tum­bling Fac­tory in Brook­field, showed up for "Mil­wau­kee's Got Tal­ent" com­mu­nity auditions that the Mil­wau­kee Bucks staged last sum­mer.

They were cho­sen, and have per­formed sev­eral times be­fore thou­sands of fans dur­ing Bucks games at Fis­erv Fo­rum. And now, the Trick­ers are go­ing to the NBA All-Star Week­end in Char­lotte, and po­ten­tially an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence.

"It's amaz­ing. This is the first time that our mem­bers have done any­thing like this," said Tony Phom­d­uangsy, the coach and a per­former with the 12-mem­ber team.

The Trick­ers were cho­sen by the NBA at the rec­om­men­da­tion of Johnny Wat­son, the Bucks' di­rec­tor of live pro­gram­ming and en­ter­tain­ment.

They will per­form sev­eral times at events such as the All-Star Celebrity Game and Slam Dunk Com­pe­ti­tion held in con­nec­tion with the All-Star game, which is Feb. 17 in Char­lotte.

It's not yet de­ter­mined what role the Trick­ers will have in the All-Star game.

The term "trick­ers" refers to a style of tum­bling based in mar­tial arts, Phom­d­uangsy said.

The Trick­ers joined long-es­tab­lished per­form­ers in­clud­ing the Bucks Dancers, Hoop Troop, Rim Rock­ers and a drum line that per­form dur­ing breaks in the ac­tion at Bucks home games.

Elite Tum­bling has about 250 mem­bers and of­fers classes in tum­bling, mar­tial arts and ac­ro­bat­ics, Phom­d­uangsy said.

On and off the court, the Bucks have a notable pres­ence at this year's All-Star Week­end.

Bucks star Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo was named the East­ern Di­vi­sion team cap­tain, and Khris Mid­dle­ton was se­lected as a re­serve.

Also, Bucks coach Mike Bu­den­holzer will serve as coach of the East­ern Di­vi­sion team.

Also on the en­ter­tain­ment side, Wat­son is mak­ing his third con­sec­u­tive trip to the fes­tiv­i­ties and will di­rect the Feb. 15 celebrity game.

Me­lanie Ricks, the Bucks' en­ter­tain­ment teams spe­cial­ist and in-game host, will em­cee sev­eral events.

Arvind Gopal­rat­nam, vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, will lead some com­mu­nity events in Char­lotte.

"I’ll be help­ing lead a com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tion be­tween lo­cal youth and Char­lotte law en­force­ment, help­ing with a spe­cial Olympics bas­ket­ball clinic and a cou­ple com­mu­nity re­vi­tal­iza­tion projects," Gopal­rat­nam said.

"This is great recog­ni­tion by the NBA and demon­strates to peo­ple in Mil­wau­kee and Bucks fans all over that we have stars on and off the court," said Barry Baum, chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer.

NBAE/GETTY IM­AGES GARY DI­NEEN,

The Bucks Trick­ers, who en­ter­tain at Mil­wau­kee Bucks home games at Fis­erv Fo­rum, will par­tic­i­pate in NBA All-Star Week­end ac­tiv­i­ties.

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