Denton: Vaughn, Budenholzer Share Similar Background
By John Denton
Nov. 9, 2013
ATLANTA – The success of the San Antonio Spurs through the years has caused Gregg Popovich’s coaching tree to grow throughout the NBA.
And nowhere was that growth more evident than in Atlanta on Saturday night when Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn and Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer – both coaching products of the Spurs – squared off along the sidelines.
Prior to landing the Hawks’ head coaching job last summer, Budenholzer was with the Spurs for 18 seasons, starting as a video coordinator and working his way up to Popovich’s lead assistant coach. Vaughn played for the Spurs from 2006-09 and then returned to the organization as an assistant coach from 2010-12. He is in his second season as the Magic’s head coach.
Five NBA coaches – New Orleans’ Monty Williams, Cleveland’s Mike Brown, Philadelphia’s Brett Brown, Vaughn and Budenholzer – worked as assistant coaches in San Antonio prior to landing head coaching gigs. The GMs from Orlando (Rob Hennigan) and Atlanta (Danny Ferry) also got their starts in the Basketball Operations side of the NBA in San Antonio.
``Hopefully we were listening along the way when we were there,’’ Vaughn said. ``If you want to consider (Popovich) the teacher and the mentor, he is indeed that. It’s just a matter of whether you want to be a part of learning and part of a great life. … A lot of thank you goes to Coach Pop.’’ Budenholzer said that Vaughn is one of his most favorite people he’s ever coached or coached with in the NBA. He said the Magic are lucky to have snagged Vaughn, who is in his second season as Orlando’s head coach.
``Jacque is first and foremost an amazing human being,’’ Budenholzer said. ``I think there have been a lot of great players who have come through San Antonio, but he really stands out even among those great players. He’s a student of the game and he’s a worker. His attention to details was off the charts – both as a player and a coach. I could go on and on about Jacque because he’s one of my favorite people. I enjoyed coaching with him and coaching him as a player. He’s a special, special person. Orlando is lucky to have him and I feel fortunate to have been around him as much as I was.’’
Budenholzer went on to say that there was never any doubt in his mind that Vaughn would someday be a NBA coach. He said the Magic’s early-season success is no surprise to him and he can see Vaughn’s imprints as a coach all over the team.
``I feel I learned more from him that he learned from me,’’ Budenholzer said. ``He was very attentive both as a player and when he joined the staff in San Antonio. He wanted to be involved in everything and learn everything. He was like a sponge. But he also gave a lot to the staff while he was there like little tricks and nuances he had picked up for teams he had played for, like Atlanta, Utah or different places. He remembered what worked there and what was good there and he shared that with us. So it was very much a two-way street. Again, we were fortunate to have him.’’
Follow John Denton on Twitter here