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NBA Bucks fire Budenholzer after first-round playoff exit

Mike Budenholzer was fired on Thursday as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, ousted after a first-round playoff exit only two years after guiding them to their first NBA crown in 50 years.

The Bucks went a league-best 58-24 this season but the Eastern Conference top seeds were eliminated by the Miami Heat 4-1 in a best-of-seven series.

In an open letter to fans posted on social media, Bucks team president Peter Feigin and general manager Jon Horst explained their decision.

“Today we announced that the Milwaukee Bucks have parted ways with head coach Mike Budenholzer,” they said.

“This was a very difficult decision. Bud helped lead our team for five incredible seasons, to the Bucks’ first title in 50 years, and into an era of sustained success.

“We are grateful for the culture of winning and leadership that Bud helped create in Milwaukee.

“This is an opportunity for us to refocus and reenergize our efforts as we continue building toward our next championship season.”

Budenholzer, 53, was an assistant coach on four NBA championship clubs in 17 seasons on the staff of the San Antonio Spurs and was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2015 during a 2013-2018 stint with Atlanta.

Barely three weeks after parting ways with the Hawks in 2018, Budenholzer was hired as the coach of the Bucks and guided them to the playoffs in each of his five seasons with the club.

Budenholzer was named the NBA Coach of the Year for a second time in 2019, when the Bucks came within two games of the NBA Finals before dropping the Eastern Conference finals to Toronto in his first season with Milwaukee.

In 2021, the Bucks ended a half-century drought by beating Phoenix in six games for the NBA title.

Budenholzer has an NBA career head coaching record of 484-317 with Atlanta and Milwaukee. He won more than 50 games in four of his five seasons with the Bucks.

The Bucks will have a major refocus to come with several key contracts for players expiring in the next two seasons and superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo looking to have the talent around him to remain an NBA championship contender.

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