Yelich in Chicago? It's a slam dunk

February 15th, 2020

PHOENIX -- has to report to Spring Training in Arizona on Monday, but he had a stop to make first.

The Milwaukee Bucks tweeted a photo late Friday night of Yelich and Bucks guard Pat Connaughton, tagged in Chicago, along with three words: "Up to something ..." They're standing arm-in-arm, with a baseball in Connaughton's free right hand and a basketball in Yelich's left hand. The Brewers soon retweeted it without comment.

The Bucks also tweeted a self-shot video of Connaughton in the practice gym. "Out here in Chicago, getting the training in, getting ready the night before," Connaughton says on the court. Then he turns to reveal two people talking in the background: "Special guest showed up, baby. Special guest showed up."

It all started on Wednesday with a tweet from Connaughton, who is slated to take part in the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night as part of the league's All-Star festivities. The tweet features a photo with a “Let Pat Dunk” T-shirt, a baseball, a basketball and a handwritten note that reads, "Christian, I have a great idea! Meet me in Chicago this weekend. PC."

“What do you say??” Connaughton asked Yelich in a tweet that was retweeted by Yelich himself.

Connaughton understands as well as anyone that Yelich is busy these days. A former pitcher, Connaughton played baseball and basketball at Notre Dame before the Orioles drafted him in the fourth round in 2014, and he appeared in six games at Class A Short Season Aberdeen that season with a 2.45 ERA before turning his focus to basketball.

Connaughton played three seasons for the Portland Trail Blazers before signing with the Bucks in August 2018, when Yelich was in the midst of winning the National League MVP Award. Yelich has attended a handful of Bucks games since then, including a memorable sideline beer chug last May during the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

Yelich never made a public commitment to join Connaughton, but Friday night's photo teases the potential for a pairing on Saturday night. In an interview tweeted out by the Bucks earlier in the week, Connaughton said he's got some tricks planned for the contest and he hoped Yelich would be able to stop by to help out.

“We’ll see,” Connaughton said. “Hopefully he responds to it. Hopefully he can make his way there. I know Milwaukee has its Spring Training coming up and I don’t want to interfere with his schedule. But last year, year and a half in Milwaukee, I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, and obviously I have a little more of an interest in baseball than most. We’ll see if we can’t get him there and have some fun with it and do a couple of other things that I’ve got up my sleeve.”

Most important of all, the schedule works perfectly. With Brewers position players reporting to camp on Monday, Yelich has a full day to get to Phoenix on time.