Last year, when the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA title in 50 years, Jerome Hunt, a Madison/Milwaukee hip-hop artist who goes by the stage name Romey, was courtside. As a lifelong Bucks fan, the moment was not just a thrill, but the inspiration to his hit song “Fear the Deer.”
Growing up, Hunt spent countless afternoons and weekends watching his dad compete against Milwaukee Bucks players. He’d watch the one-on-one basketball games go down at Milwaukee’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, where his dad was the recreation director.
The rec center was home to Milwaukee’s NBA pro-am league for most of the 1980s, giving Hunt a front row seat to his idols.
“I just got to be up close and personal. Got to be the waterboy … and that was when I pretty much fell in love with it,” Hunt said, about basketball and the Bucks.
There are several moments in Bucks history that stand out in Hunt’s mind: The 1988 grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony at the Bradley Center; when the Bucks selected Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson as the 1994 No. 1 overall draft pick.
Time and time again, Hunt — a season ticket holder — fell in love with the Bucks.
“The same sort of thing kind of happened when they drafted Giannis [Antetokounmpo in 2013],” he said. “It was another huge resurgence.”
That resurgence led the team to their first NBA title since 1971, a victory that Hunt — and most of Wisconsin — is still basking in.
“It meant everything,” Hunt said. “Every kind of valiant peak of the team, you know, I felt like the sixth man … I was just right there, you know, just being inspired by the team.”
Bringing home the championship sent a spark of creativity through Hunt. Standing courtside after the win, the lyrics to his hit song “Fear the Deer” unraveled before his eyes.
“I just went into grind mode. Just full, like, I need to capture this, this inspiration and me coming to all these Bucks games since I was a kid and all this culminating into this moment,” he said, adding, “I had to capture that and ‘Fear the Deer’ is that.”
Some of Hunt’s favorite lyrics in the song look to the future instead of just reflecting on last year’s glory.
“I like the ‘Repeat is our mood. Greek Freak is that dude. And like he said in the interview, we can’t play without food.’ I like that, because repeat is our mood,” Hunt said. “I wanted to put it in there, just to kind of put it on people’s mentals that we have some more winning to do.”
And he’s feeling pretty good about the Bucks’ chances this season, saying the Bucks will go as far as starters Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday take them. Hunt said he’s also excited Brook Lopez is back after being out for much of the season with a back injury.
“We’re the champs until somebody beats us,” Hunt said. “And so that’s going to be the mood that’s going to be the mentality.”
As the regular season draws to a close — Hunt will bring that mood to the Fiserv Forum while performing “Fear the Deer” at halftime during the Bucks final home game of the season on April 7.
“When you love music as much as I do, that joy and that passion and that love when it’s reciprocated from the fans and from the listeners — that never gets old.”