Mike Budenholzer spent 19 years with the San Antonio Spurs, 17 of which were spent on coach Gregg Popovich’s staff and 6 of which were spent as the beloved coach’s lead assistant. During that time, he took interviews and actively looked for a head coaching position. This summer, he finally secured one with the Atlanta Hawks, but thanks to some incredibly foolish decision making, he may never get the chance to coach a single game.
According to ESPN, Budenholzer was pulled over in Atlanta yesterday at around 10:30 PM for not having working taillights. When the officer approached the vehicle to inform him of the transgression, he allegedly smelled a strong odor of alcohol and noticed the driver’s eyes were watery and bloodshot. The coach readily admitted to having one glass of wine prior to driving, but he refused to take a breathalyzer test. Instead, he opted for a field sobriety test, but it did not go according to plan. After performing less than admirably, Budenholzer was hauled off to jail and officially charged with driving under the influence in the State of Georgia and later released on roughly $1500 bond.
There are typically two ways DUI arrests can go. Either the driver is cordial and seems to feel nothing but shame or the driver is an unreasonable jerk who vents his or her frustrations at the cop and/ or tries to flee the scene. Budenholzer most definitely is a part of that first group. The cop even referred to him as “polite” in the arrest report, and rather than wait for the news to break via some other source, he called and told his general manager Danny Ferry immediately. No doubt that will incur some favor, but any way you want to slice it, this is still a disaster for Budenholzer and the Hawks.
A great coach is not only a brilliant tactician but also a leader who guides the players into making smart choices. Obviously, even the best of the best are human beings and do make mistakes, but drunk driving (and possibly being under the influence of other substances) is a pretty big mistake, especially when said coach hasn’t built up any positive currency with the players yet. Over the past few years, professional sports leagues have been doing everything they can to stop players from getting arrested, including implementing suspensions. That should apply doubly to coaches.
The Hawks haven’t announced what theyr’e going to do yet. It wouldn’t surprise me if they severed ties with Budenholzer immediately, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they stuck by him and placed him on some kind of secret non-drinking probation. With the season rapidly approaching, we should know sooner rather than later.
Until then, if you wait your whole life for an opportunity and it finally comes, don’t risk blowing it with something as stupid as drunk driving.