Houston Rockets swingman Chase Budinger is best known as a solid role player, an athletic swingman who on a good day can score around 20 points and make plays at both ends. What you may not know is that basketball is his second-best sport. As a high-schooler in San Diego, Budinger was known as one of the best young volleyball players in the country, if not the world. He initially looked at colleges that would allow him to play both sports, but he opted to attend Arizona and focus on the money-making one instead.
Now that there's a lockout, though, Budinger can pursue his former love. In fact, he's playing in the Corona Light Wide Open beach volleyball tournament this weekend in Hermosa Beach, Calif. Henry Abbott caught up with him in an interview for TrueHoop:
Is this something you would be doing even if there were no lockout?
I would be, but in the NBA contract you're not allowed to.
You can't play volleyball?
You can't play another professional sport, I think. Before, the last two years, I have always played for fun on the beach, with my brother and some other guys. Never in an actual tournament, though, because I wasn't allowed to. Because of the lockout, I'm actually allowed to play in some tournaments.
Must be fewer injuries in volleyball, I would think, than in basketball.
You really don't get injured too much in volleyball. There's no contact. Once in a while, a little sprained ankle, but that's about it. Nothing too serious.
From Budinger's responses, it doesn't look like he'll give up basketball when the NBA returns to action. But it's clear that he loves playing volleyball and will take any opportunity he gets to do so. He was a phenomenal player -- as he says in this interview, he had no weaknesses -- and it'd be a shame if he turned his back on the sport completely. The lockout isn't a positive for Budinger, but he understands that he should take as much advantage of it as he can.
Few professional players have this sort of option; most have focused on basketball entirely since the time they were young children. So while Budinger has made an interesting decision here, it shouldn't have much effect on the rest of the lockout. Still, it's notable, and we should wish him well this weekend as he tries to acquit himself well on the beach.
And if he doesn't, well, he's still spending an entire weekend on the beach. As far as punishments for losing go, it sure beats spending a lonely night in Sacramento.
- Chase Budinger