New Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer called family ‘a gift’ in press conference

New Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer istens to a question during a news conference where the Suns introduced him Friday, May 17, 2024, in Phoenix.
New Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer istens to a question during a news conference where the Suns introduced him Friday, May 17, 2024, in Phoenix. | Ross D. Franklin

The first thing new Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer had to say at his introductory press conference was about his kids.

He was visibly emotional while giving a shoutout to his four children, who were not in attendance Friday, and while thanking his partner, father and siblings.

“So proud of them. So thankful for them. We got two graduations happening this week in our family, so it’s a big week, busy week for our family. My partner Lisa, here today, (has) been a game-changer in my life.”

His 94-year-old father, Vince Budenholzer, and the “original Coach Bud” was seated in the front row of the press conference.

Vince Budenholzer was a longtime high school basketball coach at Holbrook High School in Arizona, according to the Suns. He led Holbrook to a state championship in 1971 with his son Jim Budenholzer as a player.

“I’ll trade an NBA championship for my dad’s high school state championship,” Mike Budenholzer said. “I love you, dad. This is an amazing day for me.”

Prior to the Suns, Budenholzer had been a head coach for the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. He coached the Bucks for five seasons and won the 2021 NBA Finals — against the Suns. Last May, the Bucks fired Budenholzer following a first-round playoff exit.

How did Mike Budenholzer spend the 2023 NBA season?

Budenholzer didn’t coach last season and, instead, focused on his family. He became emotional again while talking about the extra time he was able to spend with his family over the past year.

“This year for me was really healthy. I kinda had a list of priorities, diving into my kids and my family — super important — and we’ve been through a lot,” he said. “Really the time with my kids was just amazing. My son’s a senior in high school. Going to every one of his games was just — you drive home and you go, ‘Wow, I got a gift.’ So diving into family and kids was awesome.”

The coach also dedicated time to his own health, he said, “putting time into my body, my mind, my spirit” and is “in a great place.”

What did Mike Budenholzer say about coaching the Phoenix Suns?

The Suns job is a full-circle moment for Budenhozler, who grew up in the small town of Holbrook, Arizona, and was a Phoenix Suns fan. But he said he would have taken this job if it was in Denmark or Alaska or even on the moon.

“I’m excited about working with this roster and these players. We have great players and with great players comes great expectations,” he said.

Budenholzer is aware that high expectations come with a team built around Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal that has tried to win a title the last few years but has fallen short.

Going into this next season, he is going to embrace those expectations and pressures, he said.

“Embrace the expectations, embrace the pressure of being an elite team, of having great players and great expectations,” he said.

Will Mike Budenholzer lead the Phoenix Suns to an NBA championship?

Saying there are high expectations for Budenholzer and the Suns next season is an understatement. Budenholzer is the Suns’ third coach in three years.

The team dismissed Monty Williams in 2023 — the same year Budenholzer was dismissed by the Bucks — after the Suns were blown out in the Western Conference semifinals. The Suns fired Williams’ successor, Frank Vogel, last week following the Minnesota Timberwolves sweeping the Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’re gonna work every day to try to bring a championship to Phoenix. I think everybody is gonna to be just as excited as I am if that happens,” he said.