MILWAUKEE — Dr. David Margolis used to be known as the arm guy.
With season tickets to the Bucks, the longtime superfan would wave one arm from the fourth row of the stands to show his support for what for years was considered a struggling team.
Years later, as his beloved basketball team began flirting with greatness, he became known as the guy with green hair.
The tradition began about 15 years ago, after the pediatric oncologist, and now program director for bone marrow transplant at Children’s Wisconsin, told the team he would let his patients dye his hair green if the team made it into the playoffs.
The tradition continued for several seasons but didn’t truly catch the eyes of the media and sports watchers, until this summer when the Bucks entered the playoffs with the kind of momentum they needed to win their first NBA championship title in 50 years.
With the national spotlight on the Bucks, Margolis aka “Dr. Dave,” and his brave patients, were featured in a segment on ESPN.
Now a very special group of sports fans — the Jewish Sports Heritage Association — have taken notice of Margolis’ team spirit.
The organization recently announced that it has selected Margolis to be the 2022 recipient of The Dr. Bruno Lambert Jewish Good Guy in Sports Award. A former internist in Queens, N.Y., Lambert was an Olympic-caliber German athlete who kicked off the German Olympic team prior to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, according to the association.
‘A real mensch’
The award is typically given to someone who has a career in sports, but Director Alan Freedman explained that Margolis’ dedication to both the Bucks and his patients made him a perfect fit.
“Margolis, a very big fan of the World Champion Milwaukee Bucks, and more importantly a real mensch in the truest meaning of the word,” Freedman wrote in an email to the Chronicle.
The award will be presented to Margolis at the 4th Annual Jewish Sports Heritage Association Induction Ceremony, which is slated to be held on May 1 next year at Temple Israel Lawrence in Lawrence, New York near Queens.
Asked about the recognition, Margolis said he was both “shocked and humbled.”
“I am honored to be considered with some of the great names in Jewish sports, and I am just a fan,” he said. “I appreciate the sentiment, and I appreciate what this means for what we do at Children’s, what we do at the Medical College (of Wisconsin), and we have done with the Bucks for 15 or 20 years.”
For the kids
While the hair-dyeing is a fun way to show the hospital’s and Margolis’ love for the Bucks, the effort is also aimed at boosting the spirits of his young, and often very ill patients.
“When you are in a fight for your life, you need to have a goal every day,” Margolis told ESPN earlier this year. “There is a young man by the name of Ian — one of sickest patients we have ever taken to bone marrow transplanting. And, hair painting ended up being one of his goals. Ian chalked my hair while he was on the ventilator.”
Margolis deep love for the Bucks has everything to do with family, he says.
“My dad had Bucks tickets when I was really young, and we would go to games. My grandfather used to run the parking lot that was across the street from the arena . . . and then I was very blessed that my dad was a fraternity brother of (former) Sen. Herb Kohl and Bud Selig. When Kohl bought the Bucks, my dad got season tickets. So, I am blessed,” he said.
When Margolis thinks of the Bucks these days thinks about attending games with his parents and brothers, and now his wife and daughters.
“It really is from generation to generation,” he said. “That’s how I view our sports fandom in the Margolis family.”