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Milwaukee Bucks dismiss coach Mike Budenholzer after 5 seasons and a Championship win

The news comes after the Bucks suffered a first-round loss to the Miami Heat.
Posted at 5:00 PM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 07:23:12-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks dismissed coach Mike Budenholzer, the team confirmed Thursday.

The news comes after the Bucks, the East's top-seed, suffered a first-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat. The Bucks were the sixth 1-seed in NBA history to lose to an 8-seed.

“The decision to make this change was very difficult,” said Bucks general manager Jon Horst in a statement Thursday. “Bud helped lead our team for five incredible seasons, to the Bucks’ first title in 50 years, and into an era of sustained success. We are grateful for the culture of winning and leadership that Bud helped create in Milwaukee. This is an opportunity for us to refocus and reenergize our efforts as we continue building toward our next championship season.”

Budenholzer spent five seasons as Milwaukee's coach and helped the team win a championship in the 2021 NBA Finals. It was the Bucks' first championship in 50 years.

Under Budenholzer, the team won 58 games during the 2022-23 season before losing to the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. ESPN reports that in Game 5, Budenholzer decided not to use his final timeouts during game-winning scenarios.
A letter from Bucks General Manager Jon Horst and Team President Peter Feigin reads:

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Last week, news broke that Budenholzer's brother died in a car accident just before Game 4 of the Bucks' series against the Heat. Budenholzer is the youngest of seven children.

According to ESPN, the Bucks, Lakers, and Raptors have all parted ways with championship-winning coaches.

Termination of Milwaukee Bucks head coach draws mixed reactions from fans

Termination of Milwaukee Bucks head coach draws mixed reactions from fans

By Taylor Lumpkin, May 4, 2023

After five seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, head coach Mike Budenholzer and the team are parting ways. The announcement drew mixed reactions from fans.

"I'm kind of happy. I kind of saw it coming," said Travis Beaumont.

"​​It's shocking!​​ I feel like he brought a lot to our community and a lot to our team," said Andron Lane.

Lane was one of the thousands who experienced the Milwaukee Bucks' first championship win in 50 years two years ago. When he heard the news of Budenholzer's termination, he was at a loss for words.

"You just messed up my whole night right now. Honestly for real. I was just having a good day. I really don't know what to say right now I'm just kind of stunned," said Lane.

Meanwhile, a number of fans seemed to support the firing of Coach Bud, especially after the Bucks were eliminated from the NBA playoffs in the first round.

"There's no reason that as a one seed, we lost to an eighth seed, especially in the way we did," said Beaumont. "As a coach, you've got to be able to make adjustments and obviously, Mike Budenholzer just seems like he hasn't progressively been able to do that."

Others were more worried about how the termination would affect the players.

"​My biggest concern would be for Giannis," said Max Scheurell. "Hopefully, the relationship between him and Bud wasn't close enough to cause his contract to be in jeopardy down the line."

Now the search for a new head coach begins.

"I think they should go for Nick Nurse," said Beaumont.

But some fans are still thanking Coach Bud for his dedication to not only the team but the entire city.

"Hey man we love you, thank you for what you've done for our city. I thank you for what you've done for our team and thank you for what you've done for the culture."

Reporting from the Associated Press: Bucks fire Budenholzer as coach after early playoff exit

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks have fired coach Mike Budenholzer just over a week after their stunning first-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat spoiled a season in which they owned the NBA’s best record.

Budenholzer’s ouster comes just two years after he directed the Bucks to their first NBA title in half a century. The move also comes three weeks after the NBA finalized Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s purchase of a 25% stake in the team.

“The decision to make this change was very difficult,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said Thursday in a statement announcing the move. “Bud helped lead our team for five incredible seasons, to the Bucks’ first title in 50 years, and into an era of sustained success. We are grateful for the culture of winning and leadership that Bud helped create in Milwaukee.

“This is an opportunity for us to refocus and re-energize our efforts as we continue building toward our next championship season.”

The Bucks posted the most combined regular-season and playoff wins of any team during Budenholzer’s tenure and had the league’s best regular-season record in three of his five seasons on the job. He posted a 271-120 regular-season record and 39-26 playoff mark in Milwaukee.

With a roster featuring two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Budenholzer’s Bucks soared to heights the franchise hadn’t reached since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was wearing a Milwaukee uniform in the early 1970s.

But with the notable exception of that 2021 championship season, the Bucks couldn’t match their regular-season success in the postseason.

The Bucks didn’t reach the NBA Finals during any of the three seasons in which they had the league’s No. 1 playoff seed. They had a 2-0 lead over Toronto in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals before losing four straight. They lost 4-1 in the second round to the Miami Heat in the 2020 East semifinals at the Walt Disney World playoff bubble.

This year’s playoff exit was particularly devastating.

The Bucks suffered fourth-quarter collapses in each of their last two games and lost 4-1 to the eighth-seeded Heat. They were just the sixth No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed in the opening round, and the only No. 1 seed that failed to win more than one playoff game.

“There’s a ton of disappointment when your season ends, no matter how it happens,” Budenholzer said afterward. “It’s a hard feeling. It’s a disappointing feeling."

Milwaukee owned a 12-point lead at Miami in Game 4 before getting outscored 30-13 over the last six minutes of a 119-114 loss in which the Heat’s Jimmy Butler scored 56 points. They were up 16 at home to start the fourth quarter of Game 5, but lost 128-126 in overtime after Butler made a tying basket with half a second left in regulation.

Budenholzer, 53, acknowledged the Bucks should have called a timeout after Butler’s tying basket, giving them a chance to make a buzzer beater that could have prevented overtime. The Bucks also declined to call a timeout when they got the ball back while trailing by two points in the closing seconds of overtime, and they weren’t able to attempt a shot before the game ended.

Antetokounmpo said after the game the Bucks didn’t make enough adjustments in how they defended Butler, who averaged 37.6 points in the series.

Antetokounmpo, who was playing with a bruised lower back, said he would have liked more opportunities to guard Butler.

The removal of Budenholzer comes as the Bucks enter a critical offseason. Brook Lopez, a finalist for the NBA defensive player of the year award this season, is a free agent. Three-time All-Star Khris Middleton could become a free agent as well if he doesn’t pick up his $40.4 million player option for 2023-24.

Budenholzer’s exit means that three of the last four NBA champions have since fired their coaches.

Nick Nurse led Toronto to the 2019 title but was ousted last month after the Raptors’ season ended with a loss to the Chicago Bulls in a play-in game. Frank Vogel coached the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2020 championship and was fired after missing the playoffs last season. The exception is Steve Kerr, coach of the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

“On the one hand, we all know what we’re getting into when we get into this business,” Kerr said Thursday when he was asked about Budenholzer’s firing. “So my first response is not necessarily shock, it’s more disappointment because Bud is a fantastic coach… just won a championship and has been wildly successful in his coaching career. But this is the business we’re in.”

Budenholzer’s teams had some bad luck with injuries during the postseason.

Middleton sprained his left medial collateral ligament in Game 2 of an opening-round series with the Chicago Bulls last year and missed the rest of the playoffs as the Bucks ended up losing their second-round matchup with the Boston Celtics in seven games.

Antetokounmpo sprained his ankle in Game 4 against Miami in 2020 and missed the rest of that series, though the Bucks already trailed 3-0 when he got hurt. Antetokounmpo exited Game 1 of this year’s Heat series with the back issue that caused him to miss Games 2 and 3. The Bucks won the 2021 title even though a hyperextended knee prevented Antetokounmpo from playing the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals with the Atlanta Hawks..

Budenholzer came to Milwaukee after going 213-197 in five seasons with Atlanta. He was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs from 1996-2013 and was on Gregg Popovich’s staff for four championship seasons (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007).

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