From the court to the sand: Ex NBA star qualifies for Paris Olympics in beach volleyball

From the court to the sand: Ex NBA star qualifies for Paris Olympics in beach volleyball

Former NBA player Chase Budinger has successfully transitioned from the basketball court to the sandy courts of beach volleyball, securing a spot in the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Budinger, 36, and his partner Miles Evans, 34, clinched the final U.S. Olympic beach volleyball spot after a thrilling late surge in the qualifying rounds.

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Budinger played for four teams in seven years in the NBA

Budinger and Evans, now ranked 13th in the world with 5840 ranking points, showed remarkable determination and skill to overtake their compatriots Theo Brunner and Trevor Crabb.

The decisive moment came when Brunner and Crabb were eliminated early in the last qualifying tournament, paving the way for Budinger and Evans to claim their Olympic berth.

This achievement marks a significant milestone for Budinger, who ended his professional basketball career in 2017.

Reflecting on his transition from the NBA to beach volleyball, Budinger shared his thoughts on the Sandcast volleyball podcast in 2018: “Most guys, when they finish a sport, they’re kind of confused, or they’re kind of lost for the next journey. I was lucky enough to just transition into a different sport immediately and play at the highest level.”

Budinger’s athletic journey began in high school, where he was a Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year in indoor volleyball before opting to pursue a career in basketball.

He played for the University of Arizona and was selected in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft.

Over his seven-season NBA career, Budinger played for the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and Phoenix Suns, averaging 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game.

Budinger’s incredible transition between basketball and volleyball

Despite his basketball success, Budinger never lost his passion for volleyball.

He often played recreationally during his NBA days with teammates like Richard Jefferson, Kevin Love, and Luke Walton.

“I decided to see how far basketball could take me,” Budinger remarked.

“But in the back of my mind, I knew I could always go back to volleyball after I was done with basketball.”

Budinger began his professional beach volleyball career in 2018 and went through several partners before teaming up with Evans in 2023.

Their partnership quickly proved fruitful, culminating in their qualification for the Paris Olympics.

Budinger will become the first athlete to compete in both an NBA regular-season game and Olympic beach volleyball.

For Evans, the journey to the Olympics has also been one of perseverance.

As Budinger and Evans prepare for their Olympic debut , the former NBA player’s story stands as a testament to his versatility and dedication.

Now, NBA fans can look forward to cheering on one of their own as he competes for Olympic glory in Paris.

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