Chase Budinger was a decent basketball player who logged in eight seasons (407 games) in the NBA for the Houston Rockets, Minessota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and Phoenix Suns, as well as having played in Europe. His earnings up to the 2015-16 seasons came to about $18 million dollars, according to Basketballreference.com. However, he has since then taken a new challenge, dialed back the clock to when he was a volleyball star in high school, and joined beach standout Sean Rosenthal at FIVB’s World Tour (FIVB.com):
“This past year I decided that I really did not want to play basketball anymore. I could not come back to the NBA and I didn’t want to play overseas. So in January Sean Rosenthal came calling and asked me if I wanted to get together and play. We sat down and we talked about it for a few hours. At that time I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to stop basketball and he wasn’t pressuring me to decide right away. He said, why don’t we go back to the beach and practice a little bit in the meantime to see if the chemistry is there. Once we started doing that, about three weeks into it, I said, you know what, this is fun; let’s do this. And we’ve been practicing and playing ever since. My brother Duncan also helped me a lot, talking about my transition. He says it is going to be a tough route, but he knows that I will be up for the challenge. I want to play as long as I can. I think I am coming in at a good age, when my body is still healthy and I could jump and be a power player. My ultimate idea is to win tournaments and hopefully one day I will be able to play in the Olympics. I am always a dreamer and a goal-setter. As far as my goals, I always reach for the skies. But now I am more focused on the present – trying to get better from one tournament to the next. So hopefully in a year or two I will be playing my best volleyball.”
Rosenthal and Budinger’s first World Tour event together was in Huntington Beach in early May. They conceded two defeats and were eliminated early:
“Our first match at Huntington Beach was a bye, because the other team had an injury. Then we had two really tough opponents. I had a lot of nerves and excitement and I did not play well. It is really funny, because I remember my first NBA game and I was awful during that game too. I was so excited and the time finally came… Sometimes your nerves just take over and get the better of you. That’s what kind of happened at my first tournament. Being at home, with a bunch of family and friends, the hype and everything were very overwhelming, so we did not do so well.”
They then moved on to three-star stop in Lucerne, Switzerland. After starting off with two wins in the qualifications and beating the top seeds in their first main draw match, eventually Rosenthal and Budinger finished ninth.
“Coming here, to Lucerne, and getting away from everybody, it’s just me and Sean, so we can focus on us. I think I have calmed down and we’ve been playing a lot better this tournament. It’s a lot of fun. The tournaments are great. I love travelling. But for me personally, it is a lot of learning, it is about getting as many games as I can, because you can’t get much better without playing. You need that experience of playing different styles, different people, of learning tendencies and so on. This whole summer is going to be a lot of learning on the fly for me. I have a great partner, who has been around forever. He is helping me along the way of figuring everything out.”
Right now it is clear that Budinger’s Olympic goal is a long shot. However, having a two time Olympian as a partner is sure to help the player cut some corners. a 9th place finish at a three-star event in one’s only 2nd tournament is no easy feat, and it should be an indicative that Budinger is yet to grow even more as a player.