The Atlanta Hawks picked up their first win of the young season in Friday night’s home opener against the Toronto Raptors. All-Star center Al Horford led the way with 22 points and 16 rebounds in the 102-95 final. Jeff Teague contributed a very solid supporting performance that included 17 points and 12 assists as the Hawks secured victory number one in the NBA head-coaching career of Mike Budenholzer.
This achievement has been years in the making for the 41-year-old Budenholzer who is in his first season in Atlanta and as a head coach in the NBA. After a four-year athletic career at Pomona College in the southern portion of California, the Arizona native journeyed through a single-season stint as a professional player in Denmark. Then in the fall of 1994, the San Antonio Spurs hired Budenholzer to work under Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
Budenholzer would end up spending 19 years in San Antonio. He started as a video coordinator for the team and worked all the way up to becoming the top assistant on the coaching staff for Popovich from 2007 through the end of last season. The Spurs were wildly successful during that time span as four NBA Titles will attest. With that type of championship pedigree in tow, the Hawks made him their headman on May 28 of this year.
Obviously, Budenholzer’s plan is for this win to be the first of many. However, he deserves to savor this one a little more than most. The Hawks will be looking to improve to 2-1 as they make a trip out west to battle the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.