INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana Pacers player Chase Budinger will step inside an NBA area once more Friday. But to not play basketball. He might be there enjoying seaside volleyball, a sport he has conquered in a approach he by no means did in the skilled world of hardwood and hoops.
Since retiring from the NBA, Budinger has turn into one of many prime rivals in the professional seaside volleyball circuit, a sport he went again to from his days rising up in California after leaving an eight-year basketball profession.
On Friday, together with companion Troy Field, Budinger will play in the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball championship on the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center in the inaugural AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) Phoenix Championships, which is able to run via Saturday.
Sand might be shipped into the world’s ground for the season-ending single-elimination match. There might be six groups in every of the boys’s and girls’s brackets to crown one of the best pairs of the 2022 season. There’s a $15,000 purse for the successful staff and $10,000 for the runner-up.
Before climbing the ranks of professional seaside volleyball, Budinger performed one season for the Pacers (2015-16), enjoying 49 video games, averaging 4.4 factors and a pair of.5 rebounds per sport. He performed seven years with Houston, Minnesota and Phoenix.
Yet, even when the 6-7 Budinger was in the highlight dunking, he was excited about volleyball, he informed IndyStar in 2019.
“That was at all times the plan,” mentioned Budinger, 34, “to play seaside volleyball when basketball was over.”
Basketball first, all the best way
Budinger grew up the place his ft hit the sand each day. At La Costa Canyon High in California, Budinger led his staff to a few volleyball state championships. He was named National Player of the Year by “Volleyball Magazine” as a senior.
He was additionally a towering basketball standout with all of the makings of an NBA star — and he actually beloved basketball.
When faculty presents poured in from everywhere in the nation, some to play volleyball, some to play basketball, some to play each, Budinger did not blink. He did not have to consider it.
He was selecting basketball, all the best way.
Budinger signed with Arizona and went on to be the forty fourth total choose by Detroit in the 2009 NBA draft. He performed in the league for seven years, till 2016, when he left to play for Baskonia.
“It’s type of robust going from the NBA to abroad. I did not have the best time,” Budinger mentioned in 2019. “Totally totally different life-style, fairly grueling.”
After a yr, Budinger began considering. Maybe it was time to make that leap to volleyball, as he’d at all times deliberate. But he simply wasn’t certain.
Then, the telephone rang.
‘Couldn’t resist that supply’
On the opposite finish was the LeBron James of seaside volleyball, Sean Rosenthal. The veteran seaside celebrity is a two-time Olympian and has 11 AVP tour victories.
Rosenthal had heard speak swirling about this former NBA player who was “gnarly” at volleyball. People have been telling Rosenthal to verify him out.
“One of one of the best requested if I wished to hitch him,” Budinger mentioned. “I could not resist that supply.”
Since then, Budinger has appeared in 27 AVP tournaments and 29 FIVB (worldwide) tournaments in 5 seasons. He’s received three tournaments, together with two final season, and appeared in 5 different finals.
Budinger mentioned basketball has introduced rather a lot to his volleyball sport.
“Just my work ethic enjoying basketball, I positively introduced that over to the seaside volleyball sport,” he mentioned in 2019. “It’s been fairly a whirlwind of simply studying the game, studying the little particulars of the seaside.”
The Arizona Republic contributed to this story.
Follow IndyStar sports activities reporter Dana Benbow on Twitter: @DanaBenbow. Reach her by way of e-mail: email@example.com.