San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford was named the 2013-14 Executive of the Year, the league announced.
Buford finished first with 58 total points, including nine first-place votes. Phoenix’ Ryan McDonough, whose team improved by 23 wins this season, finished second with 47 points (five first-place votes). Portland’s Neil Olshey was third with 34 points (five first-place votes). First-place votes are worth five points, second-place votes earn three points and third-place votes net one point, respectively.
Buford is the third Spurs executive to receive the award, joining Bob Bass (1989-90) and Angelo Drossos (1978-79). Buford has been the general manager for the last 12 seasons.
“I’m extremely happy for RC Buford to have won this award, which is both absolutely deserved and long overdue,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “His knowledge of the rules, basketball expertise and keen eye for talent have served the Spurs organization well for a very long time. It has been a personal pleasure to be at his side during this period.”
Buford’s Spurs won a league-high 62 games this season, locking up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. San Antonio was the only team in the NBA with 30+ wins at home and on the road.
Aside from Tim Duncan, the first overall pick in the 1997 draft, Buford filled the roster with foreign players in the latter portion of the draft (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter), players off the free agent scrap heap (Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Danny Green, Marco Belinelli) and one mid-lottery pick (Kawhi Leonard, along with other castoffs plugged into the Spurs’ rotation. The Spurs are the only playoff team with less than two top 10 picks in the draft.
Following last year’s NBA Finals, Buford re-signed Splitter, Ginobili, Green and Diaw for (approximately) $26.2 million combined this season, an excellent investment considering they earned 19.1 win shares this season according to Basketball Reference. Buford also plucked Belinelli from the Chicago Bulls and he played the second most minutes on the team behind Duncan.
The Spurs exceeded the 50-win threshold for the 15th consecutive season, and they’ve won the most games ever in a 17-year stretch in NBA history.
This was a very, very overdue honor.