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How Chase Buford's 'break bread' tradition is bonding the Sydney Kings

Hours after being blown out by Melbourne United in an historic 42-point loss, Sydney Kings head coach Chase Buford wasn't exactly in the mood for conversation.

With the sour taste of a brutal night on the floor front of mind, the Kings' travelling party went out to dinner for a late-night meal and some wine.

"I was a grump," Buford told ESPN. "It was hard to stomach any food, but at one point I looked up and saw some guys laughing and thought, 'alright, this is good, they're going to get over it'."

Win or lose, Buford has introduced the road game tradition of 'break bread', giving the team an opportunity to let off some steam, eat, drink and tell stories when the NBL schedule allows time.

"Mentally, after a game like that you are going to second guess yourself and think about a million things," he said. "We had an opportunity to have break bread until pretty late, wake up the next morning and watch film. By the time that was over we put it to bed and moved on. After a loss like that, everybody is a little salty, a little sensitive, but when you go share a meal those things go out the window a lot quicker."

The idea of break bread has long been a fixture for legendary NBA head coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, with Buford, the son of long time Spurs executive R.C, introduced to the gatherings at a young age.

The tradition has sifted through the NBA, with Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer also making break bread common place for the defending champions. Buford worked in the Bucks organisation for multiple seasons before heading to Sydney for NBL22.

"As a young kid I probably got to be around a few break breads. Most of the time they are on the road, at least in the Spurs world and the Bucks world,"he explained. "At home, everyone has their family, you have a million things on your mind, a million things to get to but on the road everyone, especially in the NBA, you are all there in your own hotel room.

"Good break breads are when people can bring family. It's always a fun opportunity to get to know people, especially families, off the court. The best thing for me about it, at the end of the day, whether you win or lose, getting a chance to share a meal together, share some wine, it really helps repair the bonds, just get back to enjoying each other's company.

"Sometimes after a loss, people can be upset or wishing someone did something differently in a game, but oftentimes if you have a break bread, after two hours everybody has moved on from their emotions and can get back to figuring out the best way to get better."

No topic is off limits at break bread, although Buford admits the most enjoyable interactions can come when the topic of conversation steers away from the court.

"I think you hope it swings to something non-basketball related," he said. "You get moments where people might not usually sit together, it's not players only, players and coaches get together. Everybody shares seats and gets to know different people which is the cool part. Those are special moments. I love it when we go and break bread and it's family style meals, everybody is passing plates and wine across the table, everyone is interacting."

While Popovich and Budenholzer are known wine connoisseurs, the responsibility for the decision making when it comes to a venue and wine list is not exactly a fine art with the current Kings roster.

"We're not that big of snobs, I think our guys are happy to have a glass of red, whatever it is. We take whatever the restaurant has," he said with a laugh.

"One of the times, I think Wani (Swaka Lo Buluk) had his first glass of red wine, it's all a bit of fun."

Like all social events among friends, the usual banter takes place, with star guard Jaylen Adams on the receiving end after the Kings' win over South East Melbourne last round.

"When Jaylen showed up, we were talking about his dunk with the Wisconsin Herd a few years ago and asking if he still had something like that in him," Buford said.

Three days later, Adams threw down the dunk of the season with just seconds on the clock in a thrilling win over the Brisbane Bullets.

"In the locker room after the game I told the guys I didn't have enough hair for finishes like that. I mentioned the break bread when we were watching the video and suggested it must have sparked something and he had a good laugh at that."