Are we too Dependent on Results? | The Mike Budenholzer Story

Updated: August 25, 2021

A piece of relatively irrelevant and expected news came in yesterday, with the 3-year multimillion-dollar extension given out to recent NBA champion head coach Mike Budenholzer. The reason for it being irrelevant to most of us following the league is head coaches simply don’t get fired after getting a franchise to the Finals for the first time in decades, let alone taking home the title. Even in the event the Bucks never again make it out of the Eastern Conference Finals, for a small-market franchise like Milwaukee, a single NBA championship can define an epoch as a success all on its own.

The question though that most pessimists of Bud’s philosophical approach to postseason basketball pondered as they read the details of his newly signed extension was, “but did they really have to?” So many phenomenons had to occur for the Milwaukee Bucks to find themselves at the top of the mountain. For the players, specifically Giannis, there is no reasonable way to put an asterisk next to this title, especially after he went 17 for 19 from the free-throw line to bury a Phoenix Sun team which looked like the better roster coming into the series. Antetokounmpo and his legacy have rightfully flourished from his god-like performances in the Finals, and his quick turnaround from what looked like a catastrophic knee injury in the series prior.

However, there is an argument that is hard to ignore that Coach Bud’s chip is something he more lucked into than earned. It is not necessary to go into the details of why so many analysts following the league feel some type of way about Bud since it has been three years’ worth of case studies seeing his inability to adapt to playoff basketball. And anyone who watched the first two games against Brooklyn knows in their heart, if not for the Kyrie Irving injury, or the fact that a top 5 scoring iso-god in Harden was but a shadow of himself from his physical restrictions, that if either of those players were available that series was a wrap before it even started. Even with only Durant to carry the Nets, two centimeters back behind the line, and Durant probably would be wearing his 3rd and most significant ring and holding his 3rd Finals MVP trophy.

Now, we can’t discredit the changes and adaptions made in the Finals which started to put Giannis more in the role his body is designed for off-ball, catching the ball inside and one dribble from the basket. However, the biggest change that swung the Phoenix-Milwaukee series wasn’t these scheme changes but the CP3 wrist injuries which turned him into a completely different player. One of the smartest and safest facilitators in NBA history became as reckless as Draymond Green hunting assists with the basketball. As good as the Suns were, the likelihood is that the team that comes of the West this upcoming season will simply be led by a superstar whose scoring abilities are unmatched by anything this Phoenix Suns’ team had to offer.

Regardless of the what if’s and the uncontrollable environmental factors, the undeniable truth is despite the fact they won a title, this squad is better than it played in the last 3 playoffs. Coach Bud is an 82-game commander, elite even in NBA history. But come playoff time, when the true tacticians come to play and are ready to use their secrete schemes and top-tier equations, most NBA benches have 2-3 better minds for the task than the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. And so, I ask, are we too dependent on the outcome of a season? Are we too dependent on results? We are aware that these results often manifest by variables that should have not defined an equation, and yet after the fact, it is as if it should simply be ignored due to our human need to praise a champion.

Now if they went to Giannis, and asked him directly, is Bud your guy, is this the future of the franchise? And Antetokounmpo said, “He’s my guy, let’s run back.” Then there’s absolutely nothing that Milwaukee could do but just that. And maybe that’s exactly what happened. But if it didn’t…I can tell you with absolute certainty at least a handful of voices in their front office were dying for a change.

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