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Chase Budinger, NBA veteran, pursuing professional beach volleyball

Two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal is pairing with the ex-hoops player at the AVP New York City Open this weekend.

Chase Budinger played eight NBA seasons before switching

Chase Budinger played eight NBA seasons before switching to beach volleyball. Photo Credit: Mpu Dinani

Back in January, at a coffee shop near Hermosa Beach, California, Chase Budinger was pondering his professional basketball future alongside his friend Sean Rosenthal, a two-time Olympic beach volleyball player.

Budinger played eight seasons in the NBA before playing overseas in Spain for the 2016-17 season. Rosenthal had joked around with Budinger for the past couple years about switching sports.

Now 30 years old and skeptical about playing another year internationally, Budinger obliged to spend three weeks practicing with Rosenthal before agreeing to fully pursue a career in beach volleyball, effectively ending his basketball career.

“It was a tough moment in my life, but it was good timing too,” Budinger told amNewYork. “Most guys in beach volleyball aren’t in their prime until their mid-30s, and some play into their 40s. I still have a lot of time to work on my craft and, hopefully, one day become one of the best.”

Budinger and Rosenthal will compete in the AVP New York City Open this weekend at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25/26. The tournament spans Friday through Sunday, consisting of 16 main draw teams for men and women.

The AVP is the top U.S. pro beach volleyball league, in which Budinger and Rosenthal are partners for the current season. The sport is not new to Budinger, who was voted the 2006 Volleyball Player of the Year as a high school standout in southern California. His older brother and sister also played the sport professionally.

Budinger says the hardest part about leaving basketball is the brotherhood he’ll miss in the locker room. Still, going from playing in an indoor gym to the sunshine of the beach has made it an easier transition.

“One thing I’ve been enjoying the most is being able to ride my bike down to the beach every day, and you get to practice in good weather,” he said.

On the beach, Budinger hopes to one day join Rosenthal on the U.S. Olympic team, but he also has a particular California AVP tournament in mind that he hopes to secure.

“There’s one tournament here in Manhattan Beach where, if you win, you get your name on the pier,” he said. “It’d be really cool if I could get my name up there.”

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