Summer 2024 /Global Pomona/

‘Coach Bud’ Moves West

Mike Budenholzer at a press conference. Courtesy of Phoenix Suns.

Mike Budenholzer at a press conference. Courtesy of Phoenix Suns.

Mike Budenholzer ’92 grew emotional as he returned to his native Arizona in May and was introduced as the new coach of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns with family members and friends from his hometown of Holbrook on hand.

“My dad, Vince Budenholzer, 94 years old, sitting here in the front row. We call him the original Coach Bud, ’71 state championship with my brother Jim,” Budenholzer said at his first news conference. “I love you, Dad.”

Budenholzer, who won the 2021 NBA title as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and twice has been chosen NBA Coach of the Year, grew up following the Suns.

“I don’t know what the word is, surreal or wild,” said Budenholzer, who reminisced about past players including Alvan Adams, Walter Davis and Paul Westphal and “my dad taking me in the backyard and teaching me Paul Westphal, reverse pivot into a pump fake into a step-through.”

At Pomona, Budenholzer was a four-year player and senior co-captain of the Sagehens basketball team and also played golf, while majoring in philosophy, politics and economics. Though he didn’t play for former coach Gregg Popovich at Pomona-Pitzer, he spent 19 years working for Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs, first as a video assistant and then for 17 seasons as an assistant coach, helping the Spurs to four NBA titles.

He’ll be trying to get the Suns, led by Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, to the NBA title he helped deny the Suns in the 2021 Finals.

“I can’t wait to get to work,” he said.