'We're all in this together:' Fans return to Deer District as Bucks restart season

With their team in the bubble, Milwaukee Bucks fans couldn't wait to see Giannis and Co. back in action on Friday, July 31.

The culture, the winning, the atmosphere -- the Bucks have created something contagious at the Deer District. The coronavirus put all of that on hold for 144 days. On Friday, the fans and the businesses that serve then are eager to pick up where they left off.

At the corner of Buffalo and Milwaukee, Bucks fan Eric Kuester eyes a comeback. His MODA3 store would normally sell Bucks apparel with ease. The pandemic has made that tougher.

However, with the Bucks returning to action -- even all the way in Orlando -- MODA3 welcomes the business.

"Watching it at a local tavern or hanging out with friends in the backyard, definitely people buying hats, t-shirts, a lot of jerseys, shorts," Kuester said.

Milwaukee Bucks fans at the Deer District on July 31 for the team's return during the coronavirus pandemic

You can find a lot of that merchandise -- and cheering fans -- in the Deer District where alley-oops and threes take people's minds off of COVID-19.

"The city needs this as a cheer-me-up. Like look, we're not done. We haven't given up. We're all in this together. We have to move forward, and one way to do it is to somewhat bring sports back," said Bucks fan Jonny Hunt.

In the shadow of Fiserv Forum, it's as close as fans can get to the real thing. But watch parties, too, are different than normal. Tables are spaced out and masks required when away from them, but to see the team with the league's best record get back to business, it's worth it for some.

"This is gonna be our year. We all know it's still our year, and it's good to finally be able to watch the Bucks back on the court again to get this championship, get this dub," Bucks fan Ben Winters said.

Milwaukee Bucks fans at the Deer District on July 31 for the team's return during the coronavirus pandemic

The restarted season gives fans the chance to reconnect over a game -- and a team -- they love.

"This kind of is one thing that brings the city together all the time. No matter who you are, everyone's a Bucks fan," Winters said.

It may not be the way they saw this season going, but the goal remains the same -- cheering the team on to its first NBA title since 1971.

Antetokounmpo, Bucks return with 119-112 win over Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Boston Celtics 119-112 in their return to NBA action on Friday.