Milwaukee • It’s not hyperbole or exaggeration to say that Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer had — and perhaps continues to have — an outsized influence on Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
Though on opposite ends of the sideline on Monday night at the Fiserv Center, the relationship between the two men could hardly be considered oppositional.
Asked before the game how his time serving as an assistant on Budenholzer’s staff with the Hawks helped to shape his career, Snyder waxed nostalgic and extolled the virtues of one of his mentors.
“When I was in Austin [in the G League], Bud was in San Antonio, and I was trying to learn the Spurs’ system because I was gonna have to run some version of that. … And Bud was someone who was willing to spend a lot of time with me. We developed a relationship,” Snyder said. “I coached with him in Summer League before I did in Atlanta; we were in Salt Lake, actually — I can remember going to California Pizza Kitchen. I drive by it [now], and I say, ‘I remember that.’ So when I was in Russia and he called me and wanted to know if I would come with him to Atlanta, obviously I jumped at the opportunity.”
Budenholzer called Snyder “a huge influence” on the success of those Hawks teams, and said he’s enjoyed watching his former assistant evolve into a highly-regarded head coach himself.
“He just has such a great feel for the sport. He was invaluable to our first year, [which] was so important,” Budenholzer said. “Now, watching him be his own head coach for five years now — which in NBA terms is forever — he is so creative offensively. Defensively, his teams are very physical and very competitive and put you in tough spots. I’m biased, but I think he’s one of the best coaches in the league.”
Apparently, the feeling is very mutual.
Snyder noted of Budenholzer that “his understanding and just his feel for the game is really tremendous. And I was able to witness that, learn from it.”
More important to him than the “formative” discussion of X’s and O’s, though, is that their bond has endured and been reinforced over the years.
“He’s one of my closest friends. We spend a lot of time together, our families spend a lot of time together. I’m very, very grateful for my relationship with him personally and professionally — maybe personally as much as anything,” Snyder said. “The line gets blurred in this business when you work with someone, between what’s professional and what’s personal — it all merges together because so much of the job you’re in the trenches. … I couldn’t be more grateful. I learned a lot from him, and he’s a great friend.”