Stashed away somewhere in Taurean Prince’s Atlanta home is a photograph taken at the San Antonio Spurs summer basketball clinic at Incarnate Word University. In the photo, 9-year-old Prince is flanked by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and his then-assistant, Mike Budenholzer.
Back on a basketball court in the town where he honed his game and caught the eyes of college recruiters as a star at Earl Warren High School, Prince on Monday night scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Hawks suffered their 20th straight loss in San Antonio, this time falling to the Spurs, 96-85.
“I met Coach Bud and Coach Pop when I was 9,” Prince recalled. “I don’t think Coach Pop knows that, but I showed Coach Bud a picture of mine when they used to have the camps at Incarnate Word. I was a young boy, so it’s crazy to play on the same court and one of them is my head coach and one is the opposing coach.
“It’s a blessing to be able to play in the NBA, but it’s back to the drawing board for us Hawks. We’ve got to get some W’s.”
The competitiveness that has kept the Hawks in many of their games during their 3-14 start means less and less to Prince and his teammates as the losses build.
“The competing part, that’s expected,” Prince said. “That’s every game, from game to game. We’ll continue to compete, but it’s time we started putting up some W’s.
“We’ve just got to figure out a way to pull it out. We were getting stops in the fourth but we didn’t get them down the stretch.”
Budenholzer enjoyed the fact Price played well in front of family and friends in his home town, but appreciates his growing impatience with the lack of wins.
“I’m sure coming back to San Antonio, where he was raised, probably means a little something extra for him,” Budenholzer said. “So, good for him. We all would like to have more success, but individually, he’s doing well.”
Popovich may, or may not, not recall having had his photo taken with Prince, but he believes better days are ahead for the Prince and his teammates.
“They compete; they share the basketball; they do the right things,” Popovich said. “It’s just a tough situation for them right now, but they are playing good basketball and they are playing hard and that’s all you can ask.”