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Tuesday, March 3, 2015


As one of those coaches who enjoy watching video, I obviously enjoyed this article on the Atlanta Hawks Mike Budenholzer.  The story is written by Shaun Powell for and tells the tale of Budenholzer's connection to Gregg Popovich and how it started in a film room:

In the summer of 1992, Popovich returned to California to join Don Nelson's staff with the Golden State Warriors. Budenholzer's time at Pomona came and went, and after a short stint playing professionally in Denmark, he returned to Arizona, jobless and anxious. Call Pop, said Vince. It couldn't hurt.

So Budenholzer dialed a man he'd never really met or knew and made a pitch. And Popovich was like: What does this kid want from me?

"He said he didn't have anything to do and that if I ever wanted help, he'd be available," said Popovich. "I figured he was someone else I'd have to bring in my office and talk to a bit and then get rid of him. I didn't have time for this stuff, but he did go to Pomona. So he comes in and I immediately liked him. Engaging young man. I talked to him and then said I had work to do and wished him good luck. Tried to get him out of my office. But he wouldn't leave. He said he'd do anything."

Popovich took Budenholzer to the Warriors film room and had him break down film and explain what he saw. Budenholzer, leaning on lessons from his father, surprised Popovich with his savvy for players and schemes. So Pop gave instructions: Come here every day, hand me film, don't say anything to me, don't ask me for tickets and definitely don't ask me for money.

And Budenholzer did exactly that.

"The whole time," said Popovich, "I don't think Nellie ever saw him, didn't know who he was or that he even worked for us."

During the next offseason, back in Arizona, Vince Budenholzer's phone rang. Popovich on the line.

"Where's Mike?" said Pop.

"I think he's out, but he'll be back soon."

"Well, if you can get ahold of him, I might just hire his ass."

Pop was on the move again, this time back to San Antonio in 1994 to be the Spurs' executive vice president of basketball operations/general manager and soon begin the tremendous run as coach that will someday put him in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

"When I left the Warriors," said Popovich, "I took only two people with me: R.C. Buford (now the Spurs' GM) to do scouting and Mike to do film work."

This is a lengthy column by Powell that also speaks to the role that Budenholzer's father played.  It's well worth the read and you can see it in it's entirety here.