Benson's steady play has been only one of the Bucks' blessings. Another has been Meyers' recovery from a back injury—a ruptured disk rubbing against his sciatic nerve—that forced him to miss all of last season. Surgery was recommended by some doctors, but Meyers declined. Being a Jehovah's Witness, he is forbidden to take blood transfusions. "I could only hope that he could come back," says Nelson. Meanwhile the coach protected himself at the power forward spot by trading Ernie Grunfeld for Richard Washington. That move has paid off doubly because, while Washington has been a useful sub, Meyers has been starting and playing with all his old abandon, wearing football-style pads to protect his back.
The jubilation over Meyers' return was tempered somewhat by Johnson's preseason holdout, which received soap-opera coverage in the Milwaukee press. Would owner Jim Fitzgerald renegotiate Johnson's contract, which had four years to run, at what Johnson perceived to be the non-superstar salary of $200,000 per year? Would Johnson actually sit out, force a trade and leave Milwaukee? The happy ending: Johnson got more money, in the form of a $100,000 bonus, though Fitzgerald stuck to his guns and didn't renegotiate. The Bucks had their big gun, and Meyers, too. And a slimmed-down Buckner and rookie Guard Sidney Moncrief, a prospective star who barely gets any playing time. And the extra ingredient that makes them so potent—Bridgeman.
"I'm watching Junior like I watched Marques last year," says Buckner. "J.B.'s doing things you can't believe."
"What makes us a good team is that we don't have to have a big night from any one guy," says Meyers. "Last year it had to be Marques or Brian. Now all of a sudden, I'm back, there's Junior, Bennie. We come from everywhere."
The question is, will they be going anywhere come May?