After a long day at the NFC’s Scouting Combine in March and relaxing at a downtown Indianapolis nightspot, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur found himself talking about his next offseason schedule. I was.
Free agency was fast approaching. Offseason training was set to begin for him in just over a month, and he was in the NFL Draft shortly after.
Meanwhile, LaFleur said otherwise. He was on a road trip with his NBA Milwaukee Bucks.
When suggested it would be fun, LaFleur quickly explained: “I’m actually on a business trip.”
LaFleur won the Super Bowl despite winning 13 each in his first three NFL seasons, the most in NFL history with 13 wins in the first three years of his coaching career. Never did and never has. If he can find even the slightest edge, he will do it. Even if that meant traveling with a team from a completely different sport.
“I think he had a good time,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. “But there’s no question that this was a professional development opportunity.”
‘are you serious? ‘
Here’s the story behind the trip: A month ago, Lafleur and his wife, Bure, attended a Child Help fundraiser run by a friend of Lafleur’s at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.Dangerous kids, and who did he bump into, is the star of the Bucks chris middleton.
“I had been around them for a little while and I introduced myself and it was like, ‘What are you guys doing here?'” Raffler said.
It turns out that the Bucks stayed there while they were in town to play with the Phoenix Suns. Lafleur then texted and met at a hotel bar with Horst, who was introduced by a mutual friend of his shortly after he landed a job with the Packers in 2019.
It quickly turned into a night of talkshops with Holst and his staff, coach Mike Budenholzer, assistant coach Darvin Hamm (who was soon hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers) and Charles Lee. rice field.
“We were kind of philosophizing with John and some of them. He just threw it out there,” said Raffler. “He’s like, ‘Hey, come on a road trip with us.’ And I said, ‘Are you serious? I’d love to do that and that’s how chances started, we talked about it and he gave me a bunch of dates.
They settled on a West Coast trip. LaFleur drove Green from his bay to Milwaukee, flew to San Francisco with the Bucks for the March 12th game against the Warriors, and headed to Utah to play the Jazz on March 14th. . , Lafleur made his way home on his own before the game against the Kings and returned to Lambeau Field for the start of free agency on March 16.
“Meet high school friends, college friends”
Unsure if there was such a strategic move from basketball to football, LaFleur approached it with an open mind. After all, what’s the NFL equivalent of deciding whether or not to foul when you score three points with less than 10 seconds left? (“He wants to talk about it.”)
“One of the things that stood out to me about Matt is that he feels like he has a thirst to keep growing and getting better and better and learning and being his best,” Budenholzer said. Taking , perhaps going outside the box and seeing if there’s something he can do to make the team better is a big statement about who he is as a coach and as a person. ”
He and Budenholzer quickly realized they had a lot in common in their professional and personal lives. Both were sons of coaches. Both teams are expected to contend for the title. And both are in niche professions that require dealing with so many different entities, from media to fans to team owners and general managers.
“It’s nice to have someone with a similar perspective, a similar experience, who can open up a little bit,” Budenholzer said. “I quickly develop a friendship and trust with Matt, which is rare and good for people who walk in similar shoes.”
Rodgers, who holds a minority stake in the Bucks, said he was a huge Budenholzer fan and that his coach would spend time with him, especially considering the Bucks had just won an NBA championship the previous season. He said he liked the idea of
“I love Matt who is always trying to grow in the process of what he’s doing,” says Rodgers. It’s fun to see how they travel, how they work together, and see if they can pick something out of what Bud routinely says to men. I think the leadership and team camaraderie has been really beneficial to him.”
The Bucks’ ties to the Packers have only grown stronger in recent years, thanks in part to Rodgers’ ownership and Justin Sherlock, Ruffler’s and Holst’s reciprocity. LaFleur played high school basketball alongside Sherlock in Mount Pleasant, Michigan (he says he was “his 8 or his 9 in a game”), and Sherlock Became teammates with Holst at the University of Rochester, Michigan.
“The day Matt was hired, Justin put Matt and me in a group text and basically said, ‘Let’s meet high school friends, college friends.
“Let go more comfortably”
Late last month, Holst and several of his staff spent two days with the Packers during training camp. Horst stood alongside Packers general his manager Brian Gutekunst at most practices and even attended his meetings with Lafleur’s team.
But it’s different than spending time with your team during a slower period of the season, like training camp, than in the NBA’s March, when the regular season is less than a month away.
As such, Ruffler didn’t want to get in the way of an important trip for the Bucks. During the game, he sat in the stands with Horst, a few rows behind the Bucks’ bench. At the shootaround, he sat courtside. At the hotel, he sat quietly at the meeting.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned from top to bottom is how everyone works together, how they communicate, and how they genuinely care about each other,” says LaFleur. . “You see it in Budd and his staff. You see it from staff to player. I see it from player to player. How they interact with each other on the plane. They have really good talent and they obviously need talented players and that’s kind of a prerequisite and that’s exactly what they have. It becomes much easier when the players are also their best people.
“Giannis is an unbelievable man, but you can see that in Middleton and Jules. [Holiday] When Brooke LopezAll those guys are legitimate guys.
Something else hit LaFleur.
“They have dinner after the game with all the players, the coaches, their wives, the wives of the players if they’re traveling, the families of the players if they’re traveling, and basically shut down the restaurant and gather everyone, really. I did something cool,” Lafleur said. “When I’m outside of work, it’s a special time that helps me build the team chemistry that’s vital in the face of a bit of adversity.”
There is a big difference in how NBA and NFL teams move. With that trip, the Bucks said he was away for over a week and the players had more freedom. In the NFL, teams leave the day before a game and return immediately. Still, Rogers said he’s seen Lafleur feel more free since going on that trip.
“Maybe this is related to that trip, maybe not, but every year he relinquishes some of the control and trusts the football team’s leadership, assistant coaches, seniors, etc. You seem to be accustomed to doing that. Let go a little bit more,” said Rogers. “In basketball, they’re on very different schedules. They have a night off. [on the road] And you have to say, “Hey, whatever happens, at the 11 o’clock shootout.” They can’t control everything that happens. I think there is something to be said about that because it allows for accountability. Are you opting in or are you kidding?”
“There’s a lot of pressure on Utah.”
With LaFleur in attendance, the Bucks lost 122-109 to the Golden State Warriors. They also lost forward DeAndre ‘Bembry to a season-ending knee injury on the same night.
“I saw a lot of him, especially in the Golden State game,” Horst said. “I was sitting with him during the game. I had a fairly high-impact, massive injury that happened during the game, so Matt took a quick look at the in-game chaos that happened in all of it and said, After that he experienced a loss.The road.He had full access to everything.
“He’s very curious. Seeing him around us, I think curiosity is a great trait of a leader.”
He was also very nervous after hearing Mr. Budenholzer’s remarks.
“He was under a lot of pressure to get into Utah,” Budenholzer said. “He knew that if we lost, he was to blame…. We were giving him his s when he lost to Golden State.
“He saw the game, he saw the lockers before and after, the routines that the players had on game day, and I think he was really into it.”
To LaFleur’s relief, the Bucks bounced back to beat the Utah Jazz 117-111. Shortly after, Lafleur was on his way back to Green Bay.
“They stayed there and finished their road trip [with a win over the Sacramento Kings]but it was cool to be able to experience and see how they do everything.