After San Antonio Spurs longtime top assistant Mike Budenholzer announced he would be leaving San Antonio to take a head coaching position in Atlanta, the Spurs were on the hunt for a new face to join the coaching staff. It turned out the new face in the coaches locker room would be Pacers assistant coach Jim Boylen.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for me to learn and grow as a coach. I’ll just support him (Gregg Popovich) and do whatever they need me to do, whatever they ask me to do, whatever I’m asked to do. I feel like I have some experience. I’ve been through the league a little bit so hopefully that can add to what we do and support what we do.”
Boylen started his coaching career in 1982 as an assistant coach for the Michigan State Spartans men's basketball team. He would stay with the Spartans until he was offered an assistant coach with the Rockets in 1992. Boylen would go on to win two NBA Championships and helped coach both Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming. After being an assistant for the Rockets for 11 years, Boylen became an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors and then the Milwaukee Bucks. Boylen would later go back to the Michigan State Spartans men's basketball program as an assistant coach until he was offered the head coaching position for the University of Utah Utes in 2007. He was the head coach in Utah until being fired in March of 2011.
Then came his time as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers where he coached one of the newest Spurs, Jeff Pendergraph.
“Jeff is a high energy guy, he’s a terrific runner, he can play four and he can play five, he can make that pocket pass 16 footer. I think his greatest attribute is his energy he brings, his practice intensity, he’s a terrific teammate. I think ‘Spurs’ across his chest will mean a ton to him.”
Of course putting a new coach and new player from the same originating team will be great for the Spurs. It gives both Boylen and Pendergraph a chance to adjust to Spurs basketball while still having a familiar face on the bench.