After the Nets-Bucks game Thursday night in Brooklyn, the NBPA caught up with Steve Novak on being back home in Milwaukee and his work in his native Brown Deer community, including scholarships, study programs and sports facility development.
NBPA: What’s been special getting reacclimated to Milwaukee since February, when you first signed with the Bucks?
Steve Novak: It’s really a booming city. There’s a ton of growth. I think the fact that the Bucks were able to get the new arena passed and have us stay there has been huge for the city. But it’s a time when it’s just a growing city. Marquette University is right there and it’s growing, and we’ve got guys like Matthew Dellavedova moving into town, so it’s becoming even nicer. But it’s just a great place to live, awesome in the summer and there’s a lot going on.
NBPA: What’s the hometown impact been like to experience?
SN: It’s really been great so far. I think because it’s home, it’s a special place, and right now as a team we’re in a special place. We’re really making that jump, we’re trying to get to the next level, and so to be a part of it and have always grown up a fan, I think is really special.
NBPA: What have been your favorite moments so far?
SN: I think just being a part of the fans and seeing what’s going on with the new arena there, the way the community has come together, and also to just be a part of the growth that’s happened from last year to this year. I’ve been a fan and watched from a distance—guys like Giannis [Antetokounmpo]—but to be up close and to see the improvement that a guy like that’s made has been exciting to be a part of.
NBPA: Have you had a lot of local fans and friends requesting tickets?
SN: I’ve tried to keep the circle tight. But there’s just so many people you know when you’re at home. So many people have come to games, and the whole neighborhood is always going to text me and say, “Hey, we’re coming to the game tonight,” and that’s special, because it’s like the kids on the block and the parents. So that’s kind of a different vibe than any other place I’ve been.
NBPA: You’ve had a major community impact in Brown Deer, with assistance from the NBPA Foundation. What are your different projects?
SN: Brown Deer is a high school that I went to in the school district I grew up in, so it’s always been really important to me to give back. I’m just a huge believer in I am where I am because of the way I was raised and the people that I was around. And so since I’ve been in the NBA, I’ve tried to always give back. I’ve done scholarships in the high school, been involved with the literacy program with the younger grades and helped with the construction of the field house in my town that I grew up in. The naming rights were done after my dad, who was a longtime coach and teacher in the school district. So it’s something that’s special to me, and being back with the Bucks now, it’s just a town that’s 15 minutes from the arena.
NBPA: What’s it been like working with the school district?
SN: The school district was amazing. They involved me in the process of the field house and the referendum passing to get that done. And the naming rights were something they brought to me to give to the school and to the construction process, but also to leave a legacy for my dad and for our family.
NBPA: How do you want to build on your involvement this season?
SN: Really just continuing to evolve with the literacy program at the younger grades. It’s a very diverse community. It’s a special community where the reading program has been really important, and we’ll continue to do the scholarships. So we’re just continuing to branch off in any areas that there’s a need at the time.