Mike Budenholzer and Ime Udoka, like Monty Williams, Steve Kerr or James Borrego, are spiritual sons of Gregg Popovich. Before arriving on their own bench, they either played or were assistants to the Spurs legend.
The Bucks and Celtics coaches even worked together in Texas for one season, in 2012/13. It was then Mike Budenholzer’s last in Texas, before taking charge with the Hawks, and the first of Ime Udoka, who had just retired.
“I was gone… In fact, I don’t know”reacted the coach of the defending champions for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, to comment on his past with Ime Udoka. “If I was still there, then yes, it’s obvious that I knew he would be a good coach”he joked afterwards.
Mike Budenholzer’s memory is therefore failing on this point. “He forgot that?” »commented Ime Udoka. “Yeah, my freshman year was his last before he went to Atlanta. »
Before facing him, Mike Budenholzer coached and worked with Ime Udoka
On the other hand, the Milwaukee coach, who remained on the Spurs bench between 1996 and 2013, remembers the player Udoka well. The rear had spent two seasons in San Antonio (2007-2009) under the orders of Gregg Popovich.
“He was looking to make a place for himself in the league. It was a great story. He had managed to integrate the workforce of Portland, his hometown. He was the local player who is invited to the training camp. Teams are always looking for players who can adapt, defend, make 3-point shots and can make good decisions. He ticked all those boxes. »
A few years later, Ime Udoka joined the technical staff who took care of him when he was on the court. “I had done two seasons with them, so I knew them a little. But I saw behind the scenes and, in particular, how meticulous Budenholzer is. It was like a freshman internship with them and Popovich. »
From now on, they are each “head coaches” and they are currently competing for a place in the conference final.
” It is really impressive “, delivers the Milwaukee Tactician. “I’m lucky to have known Ime for so long. I have enormous respect for the player, the assistant and the manager that he is now. It’s phenomenal. We notice his personality in his team and he does a very good job. »