Mike Budenholzer shows appreciation to San Antonio Spurs in COTY Speech

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Mike Budenholzer accepts the NBA Coach of the Year award onstage during the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Mike Budenholzer accepts the NBA Coach of the Year award onstage during the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
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As former San Antonio Spurs coach Mike Budenholzer claims his second Coach of the Year honor, he made sure to mention some important legends.

For a great mentor, there’s a distinctive pride associated with watching the individual growth and success of a disciple. The ability to pass down knowledge and instill it to the next generation is how we achieve collaborative success in society. The same goes in professional basketball, as seen by San Antonio Spurs linchpin Gregg Popovich’s seemingly-endless list of coaching disciples.

No branch sprouting from Popovich’s coaching tree has grown as sturdy as Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer, who spent 19 seasons working his way up the totem pole in the Alamo City. Starting as a video coordinator, Coach Bud showed an insatiable desire to find his place next to Pop on the bench.

Now for the second time in his head coaching career, Budenholzer has earned Coach of the Year honors for his stupendous work in Milwaukee, where he unlocked the potential of a Giannis Antetokounmpo-led unit through a feisty Eastern Conference. In his acceptance speech during the 2019 NBA Awards, Budenholzer credited some special Spurs legends for his current success.

“All of the great players and coaches in San Antonio; Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, thank you for your greatness. None of this happens without you guys.”

Working within the Spurs system enabled Budenholzer to soak in a boatload knowledge about winning basketball and culture building. This level of competency, which is often hard to come by, is combined with his own expertise, personable demeanor and ambition to harbor excellence both on and off the court. By venturing out to build a legacy of his own Budenholzer has become one of the game’s highest-regarded tacticians.

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In their first season with Bud at the helm, the Bucks won 60 regular season games and tore through the Playoffs, winning 8-of-9 contests in the first two rounds. They were thwarted in the Eastern Conference Finals by the eventual champion Toronto Raptors, but put up a valiant effort and extended the series to six games in spite of Kawhi Leonard’s historic run of excellence through the postseason.

A win for Budenholzer is a win for the Spurs organization, although not directly. The glory and hardwood belong to Budenholzer himself, the Bucks players that battled for their coach, the organization that empowered him and the city that rallied behind him.

Somewhere in the background of that is the internal pride felt within the Spurs organization knowing that they may not have reached that same point of success with their 2018-19 season, but someone that’s beloved within the franchise has taken his knowledge from San Antonio and put it to good use.

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No matter where he goes, Coach Bud will always be a respected member of the Spurs Family.

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