Spurs strength and conditioning coach Mike Brungardt announced his retirement Friday, ending an association that had made him one of the team’s longest-tenured employees.
Bob Hill was the coach of the Spurs when Brungardt took over the team’s strength and conditioning program in 1994.
Brungardt had actually started working with David Robinson in 1990 before he started working full-time with the team four years later.
“All of us will miss Mike a great deal,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in a prepared statement. “He has been an important part of the Spurs success over the last 17 years. He built our strength and conditioning program from the ground up and remains one of the best in the business. He has the respect and admiration of everyone in the organization, from players to coaches to front office staff. On a personal note I hate to see Brungy leave. He is a good friend and a wonderful man.”
Brungardt is the only strength and conditioning coach in the history of the franchise. A graduate of Central State University in Oklahoma, Brungardt has more than three decades of experience in the strength and conditioning field. After wresting and playing baseball in college, he spent nine years as a high school wrestling coach at Grand Island Northwest High School in Nebraska before becoming a highly-respected fitness consultant in Aspen, Colo., where he also played rugby. Brungardt, along with his brothers, Kurt and Brett, has co-authored five books in the strength and fitness field.
Brungardt is beloved by Spurs players, who have frequently said that his work has kept them away from debilitating injuries over the years.
“This was a very tough decision,” Brungardt said. “I’ll certainly miss working with class athletes like Tim, David, Sean, Manu and Tony that this organization has always been noted for. But after 17 seasons, this feels like the right time to take everything I’ve learned from the Spurs, especially from Pop, and move into the next chapter in my life. I would like to thank all of them, and the entire Spurs organization for the many special memories, and wish all of them continued success and happiness.”
Spurs forward Tiago Splitteronly a few minutes after the team made the announcement.
One interesting note is that Brungardt’s last day of work with the team will be June 30. An anticipated lockout will begin on July 1.
Some teams have already informed employees that theywill be going into a lockout with a skeleton crew of workers once it begins.
The Lakers reportedly on their player-personnel side, along with both members of their video department, four of the five members of their training staff and most of their scouting staff, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It is not known if Brungardt’s retirement is related to the looming lockout. But the timing is certainly curious.