Spurs days in past, Brown and Budenholzer still close friends


ATLANTA — When Brett Brown and Mike Budenholzer were working together on Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs, they never once talked about one day becoming a head coach.

Why would they want to?

“You knew in San Antonio you had a great job and you knew you were in a position where you can win and how many pro sporting teams can say that?” Brown said before Wednesday’s game against Budenholzer’s Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.

That’s a credit to Popovich and the Spurs’ organization, Brown says. Though Budenholzer and Brown are settled into NBA head coaching careers and have created their own protégées on their staffs, the thought they would ever actually do it and leave Popovich’s staff was never a thought.

At least not one they ever shared.

“We never sat around and said, ‘In five years I want to be head coaches,’” Brown said. “You just do your job and maybe they add up and somebody thinks you can be a head coach.”

Though both two of Pop’s guys, Brown and Budenholzer couldn’t be in more different situations. With the Hawks, Budenholzer has a veteran-laden team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. This season, the Hawks are the sixth-oldest team in the league compared to the Sixers being the least experienced in the history of the league, as Brown states.

Despite the disparity, Brown and Budenholzer have cribbed the methods learned with the Spurs and that’s just not with on-the-court matters, either.

“Pop was masterful at how we were treated. [General manager] R.C. Buford was amazing on how we were treated,” Brown said. “Contract negotiations were thank yous. You walked into the office, they gave you a contract, you’d look at it, sign it, bring it back and you said, ‘Thank you.’ You were always treated fairly and you were always treated like you knew you were appreciated.

“There were never negotiations — they were thank yous and you kept moving. Over the course of things, when you talk about culture, those things just kind of grew.”

In the meantime, Brown says he had the chance of talking shop with Budenholzer before the game. There were a lot of good times they went through together.

“He’s a dear friend,” Brown said of Budenholzer. “Think of the experiences I had with him. Going to five NBA championships, winning four of them, playing late in June a few times and late in May a lot of times. Having Derek Fisher break your heart, having Ray Allen break your heart. All the camaraderie and friendship, stories on the road with an NBA coaching staff is memorable. We had a great staff from Mike Brown to P.J. (Carlesimo) and Pop and Chip Engelland and Ime Udoka — those are my friends and we have amazing memories.”

Contact Us