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Darvin Ham, Steve Kerr respond to Mike Budenholzer’s ouster from the Milwaukee Bucks

Now-former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is less than two years removed from hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy after helping lead them to a win over the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals.

Budenholzer’s firing is the latest example of NBA teams having a short hook with coaches who had in the past been extremely successful.

Consider this. Three of the past four championship-winning head coaches are no longer with the teams that they led to a title. Nick Nurse led the Toronto Raptors to the title over the Golden State Warriors back in 2019. He was fired earlier this spring after they failed to make it out of the Play-In Tournament.

Back in 2020, Frank Vogel oversaw the Los Angeles Lakers’ title in the Orlando Bubble. He lasted just two more seasons before being fired. Now after five seasons and the 2021 championship, Mike Budenholzer finds himself on the outside looking in. This comes after a league-best Bucks squad fell to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

Reactions to the firing of Mike Budenholzer

mike budenholzer fired
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr is the only head coach who has helped his team to a title over the past four seasons to be with his team. Ahead of Golden State’s Game 2 matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals Thursday night, Kerr opened up about the Bucks’ decision to fire Budenholzer.

“My first response is not shock but disappointment. This is the business we’re in. Expectations for every team are so high, and only one team can win. We all believe Bud deserved better, but we’re all aware this is the job we chose,” Kerr on the firing of Budenholzer.

It’s interesting to look at. Kerr actually took over as the Warriors’ head coach back in 2014-15. That came after Golden State fired Mark Jackson, who had led the organization to two consecutive playoff appearances.

Prior to Jackson’s arrival in Northern California, the Warriors had earned one playoff appearance over the previous 18 seasons. Surely, Kerr can agree that Jackson got the raw end of the deal in that regard.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was an assistant under Mike Budenholzer with the Milwaukee Bucks before taking his current gig ahead of the 2022-23 season. In fact, Ham’s relationship with Bud dates back to their time together with the Atlanta Hawks from 2013-18.

He also opened up about the surprising firing ahead of Thursday’s game against Golden State:

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard also took to social media to address the Budenholzer firing. He seemed to be thrown back a bit.

“Folks out here firing championship coaches as soon as they don’t win the chip,” Lillard wrote on Twitter.

Others weren’t as surprised by Thursday’s news. That included NBA great and current media personality Jalen Rose.

Regardless of the reactions, Mike Budenholzer finishes his five-year run as the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coach with a .693 winning percentage and an NBA title to his name. He finishes as the second most successful head coach in Bucks history behind Larry Costello, who led the organization to an NBA title back in 1971. Bud also finishes third in wins behind Costello Basketball Hall of Famer Don Nelson.

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