Denton: Hennigan and Budenholzer Share San Antonio Connection

By John Denton
Dec. 28, 2013

ORLANDO – Long before he became a highly respected assistant coach in San Antonio and ultimately the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Budenholzer got his start in the NBA as a video coordinator with the Spurs.

It’s a similar story to that of Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan, whose first job in professional sports was as a do-everything intern for the Spurs.

Hennigan and Budenholzer became fast friends while working together for the Spurs and both steadfastly worked their way up basketball’s food chain. Hennigan was with the Spurs for four years before leaving for the Oklahoma Thunder to be the director of college/international player personnel and later an assistant GM. Then, he was named the Magic’s GM on June 20, 2012. Budenholzer became Gregg Popovich’s most trusted assistant before he ultimately was hired last spring as a head coach in Atlanta.

Budenholzer recently had glowing memories of his time with Hennigan in San Antonio and he predicted that the Magic will ultimately do big things under the GM’s direction.

``He was very similar to (current Magic coach) Jacque (Vaughn) in terms of his attention to detail, his work ethic and the time that he put in,’’ Budenholzer said. ``He was someone who was willing to do anything during his time in San Antonio. When you start out on that bottom rung like some of us did, you learn it from the bottom up.

``Rob is highly intelligent, understands the big picture and has a vision for that Magic organization,’’ Budenholzer continued. ``He has the fortitude to follow that vision. He’s someone who I was very fortunate to be around during our time in San Antonio. We all shared together and learned from each other.’’

BIRD WATCHING: With the Magic having Saturday night off and the Hawks playing Charlotte in Atlanta, it offered up a chance for Vaughn and Orlando’s players to do some scouting of their own. Vaughn said that he reminded his players at Saturday’s practice that they could refresh their memories of the Hawks by watching that night’s game, saying, ``I’m always reminding them that League Pass works every night.’’

Vaughn said the Magic are already quite familiar with Atlanta’s personnel from having played them twice earlier this season. But watching Atlanta’s 118-116 overtime defeat of the Bobcats allowed him and his coaching staff to see how the Hawks are adjusting without injured forward Al Horford, who tore a pectoral muscle last week and is likely out for the rest of the season.

``The game prep is pretty clear in your mind as you are watching the game,’’ Vaughn said of the advantage gained from watching Atlanta play the night previously. ``The good thing is we had previous games (with Atlanta) to reflect back on also. As an assistant coach it was different because you would prepare for the next day and you would just watch the game (that afternoon). But (with the Hawks playing on Saturday), now your night is later and your morning is earlier. But being able to see them play the night before does make it pretty fresh in your mind.’’

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