Budinger has transferred his skills to the easier-on-the-knees sport of beach volleyball, and is teaming with Sean Rosenthal this week in the the AVP Seattle Open at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah.
Chase Budinger is quite a sight on the AVP Beach Volleyball circuit.
At 6 feet 7, he’s tall even for volleyball.
And yes, he gets asked all the time if he played basketball. He did.
Budinger played seven seasons in the NBA, was teammates with Kevin Love, is friends with Kobe Bryant and Luke Walton, and dunked over P. Diddy in the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
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Now he has transferred his skills to the easier-on-the-knees sport of beach volleyball, and is teaming with Sean Rosenthal this week in the the AVP Seattle Open at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah.
The event runs from Thursday to Sunday.
Despite his background on the hardwood, Budinger was not a volleyball novice before playing beach volleyball.
Budinger was a star volleyball player at La Costa Canyon High, and was national player of the year in 2006 during his senior year in addition to being named California “Mr. Basketball.”
Film of his high-school matches shows him demoralizing his volleyball opponents.
“I’m big, so my skills are obviously hitting and attacking,” Budinger said. “Lately, everyone has been saying how impressive my setting has been. How I get to balls and hand-set it. I’ve gotten a lot of high praise for that. I’m pretty good at it.”
Budinger is in his rookie season on the AVP circuit. His playing partner, Rosenthal, is a two-time Olympian nicknamed “Superman” for his ability to leap high in the air to attack the ball.
It will be their fifth competition together. They most recently played in the New York City Open, tying for fifth place.
“We’ve had some ups and downs,” Rosenthal said. “Our first tournament was against some of the best players in the world. We came out flat. … And we didn’t get the result we wanted. But we played good ball in New York, and proved to people that Chase can play at a high level. We’re on the right track.”
The switch from the NBA to AVP has been a nice transition for Budinger.
He played volleyball recreationally throughout his NBA career. After getting released from the Brooklyn Nets in 2016, Budinger signed with a team in Spain, but after a year, decided basketball was likely over.
Soon after, he got a call from Rosenthal, who needed a partner for the volleyball circuit. Rosenthal knew that the vertically gifted Budinger would be a good option, because of their similar skill sets.
“At the time, he was still looking for basketball jobs overseas. We went and talked about what we both wanted, and then we started practicing,” Rosenthal said. “He passes well, sets great, and he never took any time off volleyball.
“Once he decided basketball was going away and he wanted to pursue volleyball, he was my guy. I hadn’t practiced with anyone else.”
Budinger knew the switch to a new high-level sport would not be seamless, but after so many years of pounding his joints on the hardwood, his body was grateful for the switch.
“This is a sport I could play at a very high level for the next 20 years,” Budinger said. “It’s very forgiving on your body, no wear and tear. Basketball tears up your knees, your back and your joints.
“In volleyball, some of the best players are playing and competing into their 30s and 40s.”