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GERY WOELFEL: Kohl shows generosity and class right to end

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Herb Kohl’s 29-year tenure as the Milwaukee Bucks’ owner was hardly storybook material.

The Bucks never won an NBA title and only once did they even reach the Eastern Conference finals. Under Kohl, the Bucks were, for the most part, run-of-the-mill outfits.

But never, ever let it be said that Kohl didn’t care about his employees. He was always approachable and spoke to them frequently, listening to their concerns and offering them encouragement. He treated them like family.

So, it wasn’t surprising that when Kohl recently sold his NBA franchise, he didn’t forget about the people who worked under him. You may have read where Kohl gave gifts of $500 to employees at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the Bucks played their home games.

What you haven’t read, though, is that Kohl’s generosity extended much further. He also bestowed significant financial gifts

to others in the organization, from secretaries to sales personnel to basketball operations officials. The amount Kohl gave those employees varied and was based on different criterion, not the least of which was longevity with the organization.

Some Bucks employees received $40,000 while others received nearly $100,000. And there were even some individuals who were given checks that one person close to the situation described as “life changing.”

Nearing a decision

The NBA free agency period is in full swing and it appears only a matter of days before Caron Butler signs on the dotted line with a team.

Butler, the Racine native and former Park High School star, is an unrestricted free agent and has the luxury of signing with the team of his choice. As one would imagine, a slew of teams have been courting the veteran small forward, including last season’s NBA Finals finalists — San Antonio and Miami — and Chicago.

Jamil Wilson, the former Horlick High School and Marquette University standout, agreed to terms with the Washington Wizards Monday.

The 6-foot-7 Wilson was overlooked in the June draft but a bunch of teams had pursued him as a free agent. Wilson will compete for the Wizards in the upcoming NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Fasten your seat belts

While the Milwaukee Brewers have played exceptionally well to date, one should be reminded there is a lot of baseball to be played ... and against some equally-talented clubs.

The Brewers entered Monday night’s game against Philadelphia with a 52-37 record. The only team in Major League Baseball with more wins is Oakland with 55. The Brewers also had a 4½-game lead over Pittsburgh, a 5-game lead over St. Louis and a 6-game lead over Cincinnati in the NL Central Division standings.

But that lead is hardly safe when you consider this: The Brewers will still play St. Louis 13 more times this season. They will also play Cincinnati nine more times and Pittsburgh six more times. Do the math and the Brewers will play a total of 28 games against their primary competitors in the Central Division.

Stars come out

The Horlick High School golf outing July 18 at Ives Grove Golf Links will feature two of its most prominent alums: Don Heinkel and Shane Rawley. Both are former Rebels baseball standouts who went on to play in the Major Leagues.

Heinkel, who still holds the NCAA record for most career victories — he won 51 games as a pitcher for Wichita State from 1979-82 — is now a family practice doctor in Oneonta, Ala.

Heinkel, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 1988 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1989, will be honored at this year’s golf outing as the Rebels’ distinguished alumni for his achievements in baseball and as a doctor.

Bonus shots

Congrats to Jim McIlvaine and his wife, Gwendolyn, who gave birth to Blythe Darby Gillingham. She was born July 2, weighing 6.1 pounds and measuring 20 ½ inches — without shoes. . ... McRobert Stone said his son, Diamond, a standout center at Whitefish Bay Dominican High School, has “lost his baby fat” and slimmed down from 255 pounds to 246 pounds. Robert said Diamond, a consensus top five player in the nation, won’t narrow his college choices until September. ... In a poll of NFL players, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was 11th on the NFL Network’s Top 100 ranking. Seriously? That’s at least 10 spots lower than he should be.

Gery Woelfel is a sports reporter for The Journal Times. Gery can be reached by calling 262-631-1713 or by email at


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