By Linda Kor
Mike Budenholzer, a 1988 graduate of Holbrook High School, has been named the new head coach for the Atlanta Hawks. Budenholzer, 43, has signed a three-year agreement with the National Basketball Association franchise after a 19-year stretch with the San Antonio Spurs, 17 of those as assistant coach under Coach Gregg Popovich.
Budenholzer already has a long-term relationship with Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry, who played for Budenholzer and worked with him as an executive with the Spurs.
“I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of the San Antonio Spurs organization for the last 19 years. I knew it would have to be a tremendous situation for me to leave and, clearly, coming to Atlanta as the head coach of the Hawks is perfect for me,” said Budenholzer in a recent press release. “Ownership’s commitment to taking this organization to the next level, and creating a unique and special culture, partnering with a general manager like Danny Ferry who I have great respect for, and building a roster that has terrific potential because of the existing core and the ensuing flexibility presents a rare and uniquely positive opportunity.”
Budenholzer’s parents, Libby and Vince Budenholzer, now reside in Queen Valley and Show Low, and are very pleased with their son’s new position.
“We’re very proud of him and pleased that he decided to head up the Hawks,” said Vince, a retired coach and athletic director at HHS who led his 1975 team to the state championship.
Budenholzer got his start in Holbrook as a four-year starter for HHS, and was the team’s MVP in 1986 and 1988. He remains Holbrook’s all-time leading scorer. He was a four-year letterman and two-year starter on the Pomona College basketball team in California and was named the Outstanding Senior Athlete in 1993.
He was a player/coach for a professional basketball team in Denmark for one year before being picked up by the Spurs in 1994 as a video coordinator. He held that position for two years before being named an assistant coach at the beginning of the 1996-97 season. Since the 2007-08 season, Budenholzer has been the Spur’s number one assistant.
The Spurs won their fifth Western Conference championship Monday night and are headed for the NBA Finals. Budenholzer will begin his new position with the Hawks after the finals.
By Linda Kor