Small-town Arizona shaped new Suns coach Mike Budenholzer for NBA success

On May 9, 2015, The Arizona Republic published a story about Mike Budenholzer with the headline: "Mike Budenholzer turns small-town Holbrook roots into big NBA coaching success."

In the story, Budenholzer told then-Republic Suns beat reporter Paul Coro: "The dream or the goal was to play in college," Budenholzer said. "That was exclusively my focus. I followed the Suns and they were my favorite team, but the NBA just wasn't what it is today.

"I literally remember going in my backyard and my dad teaching me Paul Westphal moves. Sweet D, Walter Davis. Double-A, Alvan Adams. Listening to Al McCoy on the calls."

Now, almost exactly nine years later, Budenholzer is being hired as the 22nd different coach in the history of the Phoenix Suns, according to sources.

A good fit? Is Mike Budenholzer the right choice for Suns coach?

Small-town Arizona shaped Mike Budenholzer for success

Coro wrote the 2015 piece profiling Budenholzer, an Arizona native, by going to the small-town Arizona town that shaped the NBA coach for success: Holbrook.

The profile was written after Budenholzer became the first native Arizonan to win the NBA Coach of the Year Award after he led the Atlanta Hawks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference that season.

After a lengthy career as an assistant coach for the Spurs, Budenholzer went 213-197 in five seasons in Atlanta before going 271-120 in five seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and beating the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals in 2021. He was also the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2018-19.

And now he is set to coach the Suns, his favorite team growing up.

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Mike Budenholzer was an all-Arizona Class A guard for Holbrook High School.
Mike Budenholzer was an all-Arizona Class A guard for Holbrook High School.

Mike Budenholzer's 'implausible rise' continues with Phoenix Suns

Coro wrote of Budenholzer in his profile: "An implausible rise from a remote town of almost 5,000 people to the pinnacle of basketball coaching makes perfect sense for those who know him as the 'Mikey Bud' who grew up amid accomplishment.

"His parents became Holbrook royalty once his father, Vince, won a state basketball championship as Holbrook High's coach in 1971 and his mother, Libby, became the first female city council member in 1975 and mayor in 1981. Seven to 17 years older, Budenholzer's siblings left no room for doubt that achievement could blossom from modest surroundings. They have scattered the nation, landing jobs as a real estate developer, pharmacist, accountant, lawyer, rancher and assistant principal."

You can read all about Budenholzer's Arizona roots in Paul Coro's profile of the coach back in 2015.

Back to Arizona: Mike Budenholzer turns small-town Holbrook roots into big NBA coaching success

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns coach Mike Budenholzer's success started in small-town Arizona