Growing up the son of a basketball coach in a small town in Arizona, Mike Budenholzer encouraged the Phoenix Suns to win an NBA title.
Now he’s doing everything he can to prevent it as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, who are at a 2-2 deadlock with the Suns entering Game 5 on Saturday at Phoenix in the best of final seven. of the NBA.
“I was a huge Suns fan growing up,” Budenholzer said. “Good memories of watching the suns. “
The 51-year-old has supporters in his hometown of Holbrook, but most Arizona fans want the Suns to win the first title in their 53-year history.
“Being from a small town in northern Arizona, having that support and feeling how proud everyone is, yeah, that’s special,” Budenholzer said. “Very grateful for this love. “
The biggest support for “Coach Bud” comes from Vince Budenholzer, Mike’s father who coached high school and college for 25 years before retiring in 1997.
Vince Budenholzer takes an aggressive approach.
“He wants us to support every minute of every game. He doesn’t understand why we don’t support more, ”said Budenholzer of the Bucks.
“One of his favorite phrases for me was, you should press as soon as they get off the bus.
“It has a lot of notes from a long time ago that it sometimes comes out and that we will go over on a pad of yellow paper. But now it’s mostly texts. “
Budenholzer applies his father’s desire for aggressive play to the Bucks, strategically modernizing for the NBA.
“If you take that notion, that idea of pressure all over the court, there’s an idea of playing hard and competing and being aggressive,” Budenholzer said. “He wanted to press and run, press and run. We don’t support, but we try to keep and then run.
“He coached with a ton of passion. I remember it, and I hope this is what I do. “
After a brief playing career in Europe, Mike Budenholzer became video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs in 1994. Two years later he became assistant to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and was a staff member of Four 1999-2007 NBA Championship teams.
Budenholzer left to coach the Atlanta Hawks from 2013-18, and after being fired he quickly signed to guide the Bucks. His teams made seven playoff appearances in eight seasons, with Budenholzer taking home NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2015 and 2019 when his teams reached the conference finals.
Now he has finally reached the NBA Finals.
“I feel lucky to have already made the final as an assistant coach and to see great players and great coaches working there,” said Budenholzer.
“Anytime you have the chance to be there and see this process, as players and as an organization, it’s good to have a little experience. To take advantage of it, I think it’s a bit useful. I don’t think it’s a big deal, but it helps. “
– ‘Just trust’ –
Bucks playmaker Khris Middleton appreciates that Budenholzer listens to his players and tells them what he thinks.
“He’s a guy who’s going to tell you what he sees,” Middleton said. “And another thing is just trust. We sometimes see it differently on the pitch, we bring it to him, ask if we can do it or suggest we do it and he trusts us to go out there and perform it. “
Reserve forward Bobby Portis is very impressed with Budenholzer’s attention to detail.
“Coach Bud has done a great job with me throughout the season in the movie theater. It just stays on me, ”Portis said. “We all need coaches like that to push us. He doesn’t want you to make yourself comfortable. He wants the best of his guys.
“Every possession counts and Coach Bud sticks with us on that – taking care of the basketball, turning defense, being out there and all connected on the floor to talk and communicate.
“All of these things help me become a better basketball player, and I thank him and his team for that. “
© 2021 AFP