MILWAUKEE — Sometimes, when Quin Snyder drives by California Pizza Kitchen, he gets reminded of a summer years ago. It almost sounds silly, but each time he sees the Salt Lake City restaurant, he thinks “Oh, I remember that.”
That memory: He and Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer sharing a meal there during their time in the San Antonio Spurs organization, coaching at the Utah Jazz Summer League. It’s a simple memory, but one that shows how much the moments with Budenholzer have helped shape Snyder as a coach.
“When I was in Austin (coaching the Spurs’ G-League team), Bud was in San Antonio,” Snyder said. “I was trying to learn the Spurs system because I was going to have to run some version of that — obviously, just a little watered down. Bud was someone who was willing to spend a lot of time with me.”
Budenholzer taught Snyder the intricacies of the Spurs system and helped him plant some ideas of his own. And Budenholzer was impressed with Snyder enough to bring him on board when he got the head coaching job for the Atlanta Hawks.
“That first year, to put in a system on both sides, he just has such a great feel for the sport,” Budenholzer said of Snyder. “He was invaluable to our first year, which was so important”
Snyder credits that year in Atlanta and the previous years in the Spurs organization for helping him develop as a coach. He was given a role that was meaningful and got a chance to implement ideas and grow as a coach.
“To be in a role that you feel like is impactful that someone trusts you and you just want to support him any way you can,” Snyder said. “He’s such a good coach. His understanding and really feel for the game is just tremendous. I was able to witness that, learn from it and then the friendship, too.
“There were a lot of years we spent together, but that one, in particular, was impactful in a really unique way.”
Budenholzer said that Snyder proved he was ready to be a head coach during that season. The stuff he did offensively was new and he his defensive schemes proved to be tough to score on. He’s done the same thing in Utah.
“Now watching him be his own head coach for five years now — which in NBA terms is forever,” Budenholzer said. “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.”
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.
–Mike Budenholzer on Quin Snyder
The relationship remains strong. Snyder said Budenholzer remains one of his closest friends and their families still spend plenty of time together. It was actually a little bit of an Atlanta reunion on Sunday at the Marquette basketball game with Snyder, Budenholzer and former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry in attendance.
Snyder is appreciative of the guidance and the support Budenholzer has given him throughout his career, and now is developing the same type of relationships with his assistants.
“Half the time being an assistant coach is about being supportive as much as anything,” Snyder said. “He knew what he was doing; I just wanted to help him any way I could. It’s been great for me to have the opportunity to have guys on my staff that do that for me. I couldn’t be more grateful. I learned a lot from him and he’s a great friend.”