Late Friday night, a report emerged from Joe Vardon at The Athletic after comments from former Bucks assistant and current Lakers head coach Darvin Ham prior to his team’s Game 6 versus the Grizzlies (incidentally coached by another former Bud assistant):
I asked Darvin Ham about Giannis' viral comments about failure. Somebody else may post the video, but here was Ham's response: pic.twitter.com/gksUEWAk5K— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) April 29, 2023
Not long after, Vardon reached out to the Bucks, who confirmed the loss through a team spokesman. It appears Budenholzer’s older brother succumbed to injuries from a car accident just before Game 4. Coach Bud is the youngest of seven children, and one of three males.
This tragedy comes out at what’s undoubtedly already a tough moment for Bud and the Bucks, with Bud under intense scrutiny from fans and media in the wake of his team’s first-round collapse. Entering Game 4, the Bucks had just been wrecked on the road and were down 2-1 to the Heat. In Games 4 and 5, the team blew fourth-quarter leads of 15 and 16 points, respectively. Bud’s decisions in both contests have been vociferously criticized by an already-vocal portion of the fanbase who have long wanted to see him gone, as well as many other fans who may have migrated to that camp after the team’s early exit.
While writers here and elsewhere have expressed their opinions on Bud’s future in Milwaukee, perhaps we should pump the brakes a little bit for now. It’s reasonable to expect Bud wasn’t on top of his game during the series with this weighing on him, and he did not speak about it publicly. That is his prerogative; in a public-facing position like this, he still deserves privacy, and if he doesn’t want this news out at a given time, he is 100% entitled to that.
I don’t say this to absolve him of mistakes, recently or historically, but you can’t help but feel for the guy right now. To get that sudden, terrible news in the middle of a playoff series where you’re trailing, largely because you were missing your team’s best player for the previous three games... I can’t imagine how that would feel, and how it might affect my job performance. Then his team goes on to get shocked in consecutive games when his brother’s loss is very fresh, and he’s considered by most to be coaching for his job, with a large portion of the fanbase turned on him. You and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to deal with that confluence of events.
Who knows what will happen with Bud in the near-term vis-a-vis is tenure in Milwaukee, and whether or not this sad fact will affect that outcome. It may not make a difference, and in that case, I’m not sure just how coldhearted it would be to dismiss someone in the wake of something like this, but it sure seems coldhearted. I just know I’m glad that I’m not the one who has to make that decision.
In any case, as of today, Bud is still the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, and part of the Bucks family. Our hearts go out to the Budenholzer family in this rough time.