INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana Pacers player Chase Bodinger will step inside the NBA circuit again on Friday. But not to play basketball. There he will be playing beach volleyball, a sport he conquered in a way never before played in the professional world of hardwoods and hoops.
Since retiring from the NBA, Bodinger has become one of the biggest competitors on the pro beach volleyball circuit, a sport he’s returning to from his California growing up days after leaving his eight-year football career.
On Friday, along with partner Troy Field, Bodinger will play the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tournament at the Footprint Center in the Phoenix Suns in the inaugural Phoenix AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) tournament, which will run through Saturday.
Sand will be shipped onto the field for the season-ending Singles Elimination Championship. There will be six teams in both the men’s and women’s brackets to crown the best pairs of the 2022 season. There is a $15,000 purse for the winning team and $10,000 for the runner-up.
Before climbing the ranks of pro beach volleyball, Bodinger played one season for the Pacers (2015-16), in which he played 49 games, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He played seven years with Houston, Minnesota and Phoenix.
However, even when the 6-7 Budinger was in the spotlight, he was thinking about volleyball, he told IndyStar in 2019.
“It was always the plan to play beach volleyball when basketball was over,” said Bodinger, 34.
Basketball first, all the way
Bodinger grew up with his feet hitting the sand every day. At La Costa Canyon High in California, Bodinger led his team to three volleyball tournaments. He was named National Player of the Year by Volleyball Magazine as a Senior.
He was also a basketball superstar with all that an NBA superstar makes – and he really loved basketball.
When college shows poured in from all over the country, some to play volleyball, some to play basketball, and some to play both, Bodinger didn’t blink. He didn’t have to think about it.
He was picking basketball all the way.
Bodinger signed with Arizona and became the 44th overall pick by Detroit in the 2009 NBA Draft. He played in the league for seven years, until 2016, when he left to play for Basconia.
“It’s kind of hard to get from the NBA abroad,” Bodinger said in 2019. “I didn’t have a good time. A completely different lifestyle, very stressful.”
A year later, Bodinger began to think. Maybe it’s time to make that volleyball jump, as he always planned. But he wasn’t sure.
Then the phone rang.
Can’t resist this offer
On the other end was beach volleyball player LeBron James, Sean Rosenthal. The veteran beach star is a two-time Olympian with 11 AVP Tour victories.
Rosenthal had heard talk swirling about this former NBA player who was “ferocious” in volleyball. People were telling Rosenthal to check it out.
“One of the best of them asked if I wanted to join him,” Bodinger said. “I couldn’t resist this offer.”
Since then, Budinger has appeared in 27 AVP Championships and 29 FIVB (International) Championships in five seasons. He won three championships, including two last season, and appeared in five other finals.
Bodinger said basketball brought a lot to his volleyball game.
“Just my work ethic of playing basketball, I definitely brought that to the game of beach volleyball,” he said in 2019. “It’s been a whirlwind of just learning the sport, learning little details about the beach.”
The Arizona Republic contributed to this story.
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