The R.C. Buford Award

R.C. Buford is the NBA's best executive, and has been for a long time. He's never won the NBA's Executive of the Year Award. There's a way to fix that.
Share |

Michael Jordan won his first NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 1988, and didn't really cease being the league's best and most valuable player for more than a decade after that. Everyone knows this, but the historical record doesn't show it, at least where MVP trophies are concerned. Magic Johnson won two more with the then-Kareem-less Lakers before Jordan won another two; in 1993, Barkley got his only MVP before losing to Jordan's Bulls in the NBA Finals. Then Jordan retired, spent some time in Birmingham failing to hit a curve ball, won another MVP award in his first season back, and then lost out to Karl Malone before eviscerating The Mailman's Jazz in the NBA Finals as mercilessly as he'd done in Barkley's Suns team earlier in the decade. Jordan won his final MVP the next season during his final year with the Bulls. In all, he won 5 MVP awards over nine unassailably dominant years, losing two to Magic, and one a-piece to Malone and Barkley. He beat all three in the NBA Finals, though, using the MVP vote as yet another slight to continue his pathological need to be the best. Jordan is forever an outlier, but this is one reason why many basketball fans tend to consider the MVP kind of silly.

It's like this with most of the NBA's year-end superlatives. During those years of MJ-ination, there wasn't another player that MVP voters actually believed was a superior player, or one more integral to his team's success. But it would've been boring to hand the award to the same player for nearly an entire decade, and so voters found reasons why others should win despite Jordan's unquestioned and unstinting brilliance. This is not necessarily right, but it is how it goes: the odds are against LeBron winning a third consecutive MVP next year, even if he's just as great as he has been this year and last. It's the way it goes. If voters merely chose to give the award to the person who deserved it most, there would be little to debate. If voters merely chose to give the award to the person who deserved it most, San Antonio Spurs GM R.C. Buford would've won any number of NBA Executive of the Year awards during his 22 seasons with the Spurs, and 11 as the team's GM.

He has, after all, ensured that the small-market Spurs have remained one of the NBA's elite teams for two decades. Instead, Buford has not won been named NBA Executive of the Year even once. If this is how things work, it's hard to say that things are working as they should for Buford.


In the time since Buford and Gregg Popovich—the former then the team's scouting director and the latter its GM—made Tim Duncan the top pick in the 1997 NBA draft, the Spurs have enjoyed an extended period of winning that hasn't been matched by a franchise since the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson to pair with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Over the last 15 seasons, the Spurs have never fallen below the 50-win plateau. This excludes the strike-shortened 1999 season, but even last year's lockout-thwarted team went 50-16.

There are NBA playoff appearance streaks in the contemporary game that go on longer than the Spurs' current 16 seasons, most notably Portland's from 1983-2003 and Utah's which started one year later and also ended in 2003 as well. But neither of those teams ever won a title. The Lakers made the playoffs 17 years in a row from 1977-1993 and won five titles, which makes them the closest comparison to the Spurs for such a high level of excellence over so many years. Perhaps it's fitting no one in the Lakers organization won an Executive of the Year award until after they'd missed the playoffs, when Jerry West won it in 1995.

Like those Lakers, Buford's Spurs teams have only failed to get out of the first round three times. In one of those rare years, 2000, Duncan tore his meniscus just before the postseason began and was unable suit up for even a single game against Phoenix in a series the Spurs lost 3-1. Not only have the Spurs made the playoffs in every year that Duncan's been in uniform, but they've advanced past the first round in 12 of those years and won four titles. Talent is spread more widely across a larger-than-ever league than ever before, and Buford has dealt with two very different collective bargaining agreements and numerous changes in the salary cap and rules governing free agency. And yet, for the Spurs, nothing has changed.

This year, they were at the top of their division again; for the second straight season, the Spurs finished second in the Western Conference to an Oklahoma City Thunder team that's almost a direct doppelgänger. This makes sense: the Thunder's general manager, Sam Presti, worked for Buford before taking over operations for the Thunder. The Thunder eliminated the Spurs last season, and may well do it again; in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they have enough young talent to contend for a title every year for the foreseeable future. But they were built along the lines and with the specific strategy that Buford has used in San Antonio. Even when he loses, he wins.


In the time since Buford/Popovich/Duncan started their reign in 1998, Geoff Petrie and Bryan Colangelo have won the Executive of the Year award twice. This is the same Bryan Colangelo—coincidentally or not, the son of Jerry, himself a four-time winner—that selected Andrea Bargnani with the top pick in the 2006 draft and whose Toronto Raptors franchise have not won a playoff series since he took over. And yes, this is the same Geoff Petrie who hasn't put a team in the playoffs since Rick Adelman left after the 2003-04 season. That's not one but two awards, for each.

Buford didn't build this team himself, of course—here's a good place for the ritual These Awards Are Silly disclaimer. There was Presti and other savvy assistants; it surely helped to have the best coach in the game, and one of the best in history, on the sideline. But Popovich has won two Coach of the Year awards over this period, in 2003 and last year. Even his old assistants/players have taken home the NBA's Coach of the Year award: Avery Johnson in 2006 and Mike Brown in 2009. Awards are silly, but also this all seems worth mentioning.


Tony Parker is arguably the best player on the Spurs right now, the biggest single reason the Spurs have continued to dominate after the league outlawed hand-checking and reshaped the game, and one of Buford's greatest triumphs. Initially, Popovich was unimpressed with Parker, thinking he was too skinny to play in a man's league during his first workout. Buford had his young assistant, Presti, compose a "best of" tape highlighting Parker's excellent play; Popovich was impressed enough with the Parker on the tape to invite him back and eventually draft him with the 28th pick of the 2001 draft. Parker ended up starting the fifth game in his rookie year, has started for three title-winning teams and won one Finals MVP.

It was a brilliant pick, but just mentioning Buford's prescient Parker pick, we're neglecting to go through all the discrete moves Buford has made to improve a juggernaut without sacrificing the money his competitors have shelled out during the same time frame. The only other team that's consistently made the playoffs during the same period has been Mark Cuban's Mavericks squad, and this year they looked awfully tapped out.

If there's a general manager in recent memory to accomplish anything remotely like this, it's Jerry Krause. And yet Buford, a low-key and respected character, could not be less like Krause. The legendary and legendarily obstreperous Bulls GM believed he was the single biggest reason the team he built kept winning rings, more so even than Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, all of whom he resolutely low-balled in contract negotiations. There has never been any indication that Buford possesses even an atom of Krause's abrasive insecurity, and his flexibility—as Timmay's grown older and Popovich has limited his minutes, Buford has built a roster that can accommodate that new reality—is hugely un-Krause.

We're numb to this brilliance, mostly because it has all accumulated so steadily and serenely. Buford dealt George Hill to Indiana, in exchange for the pick that nabbed Kawhi Leonard; drafted and held Tiago Splitter to help Duncan on the block, and kept him during the lock-out; he took on Stephen Jackson in 2002, then let him walk to the Hawks as a free agent in 2003, then got him back in 2012 to erase a rare mistake in acquiring Richard Jefferson, then cut him loose again for what we can only assume were good reasons; he realized that Steve Kerr and Michael Finley and Robert Horry weren't quite as done as the rest of the NBA figured.

Proof of his system's worth is also there to find in the calvacade of coaches and ex-personnel Buford promoted within the organization and who have since gone on to excel in other places: Dell Demps, Rob Hennigan, Sam Presti, Avery Johnson, Danny Ferry. Buford's reputation has made it so that the simple fact of San Antonio showing interest in a player automatically elevates that player's stock in the league.

It takes nothing away from whichever younger, hipper executive will win the award this year—I'm guessing it will be Denver's young GM Masai Ujiri, who has made a series of really excellent moves—to note that Buford has at least as good a claim on the award. It's true this year, and every year. It's doubtful that Buford loses much sleep over this, and also doubtful that he'll ever do anything flashy or comprehensive enough to attract the attention of voters who are weirdly but clearly numb to his greatness.

So here's a suggestion. Bill Russell gets the NBA Finals MVP award. Maurice Podolloff might, currently, have the MVP trophy attached to him, but give it a few more decades, and Jordan should get that honor. Since the various media people who vote on such things have never seen fit to give the Executive of the Year award to the league's best executive, let's at least make them vote on the R.C. Buford Executive of the Year Award. It will be justice, if justice too long deferred, if Buford's name ever winds up on the trophy in that way. It will be hilarious, and a little sad, if that's the first time it ever winds up there.

Share |


Buy Twitter Favorites at an unbeatable Price starting from 99 cents only.With our high quality favorites you can increase your tweets range immediately. buy twitter favorites cheap

Absolutely fantastic posting! Lots of useful information and inspiration, both of which we all need!Relay appreciate your work. clash of clans resources

Buy backlinks I was searching the blogs for a long time and that is good to know that I have found such blogs here. Great working! Keep it up! visit this site hurry !!! Dofollow Blog Comments

Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging car cover

Echte Followers kaufen und Likes kaufen - Warum Fake Follower kaufen ? Wenn es bei uns Echte Aktive Follower zu einem konkurrenzlosen Bestpreis gibt likes kaufen

I haven't any word to value this post.....Really i am awed from this post....the individual who make this post it was an incredible human..thanks for imparted this to us. trust flow blog comments

Acheter des Followers réel et Acheter des Likes - Pourquoi acheter des Followers? Si avec notre service tu peux gagner des Followers réel et actifs pour un prix incomparable! acheter des followers

Brilliant article. You have done a pretty good job today. The information was fantastic to read. I am very impressed with this work from you. Thanks for doing this. Keep up the great work. autoprotectionoptions

Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! Simply put your blog post to my favorite blog list and will look forward for additional updates. Simply wanted to write down a word in order to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips.

even worse than looking oversize buddy, more degrading than wearing the same dress in another party -- it's the fear of symbolizing looking dissertation help online

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually realize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my site =). We could have a hyperlink change contract between us! Read This

I truly inspired after read this on account of some quality work and educational musings . I just wanna express profound gratitude for the author and want you to enjoy all that life has to offer for coming!. ladenbau

Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have. chiropractic health centre

I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us. z4 car cover

Worldwide adult directory containing listings for independent escorts, escort agencies, fetish and massage professionals b12 injections

Much appreciated you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. sell silver

Your blogs further more each else volume is so entertaining further serviceable It appoints me befall retreat encore. Swing

Wonderful blog post. This is absolute magic from you! I have never seen a more wonderful post than this one. You've really made my day today with this. I hope you keep this up!
B2B Marketing Services

Wonderful blog post. This is absolute magic from you! I have never seen a more wonderful post than this one. You've really made my day today with this. I hope you keep this up Clash of Clans Hack

such an interesting article here.I was searching for something like that for quite a long time and at last I have found it here. custom tee shirts no minimum

This is cool post and i enjoy to read this post. your blog is fantastic and you have good staff in your blog. nice sharing keep it up. lg portable air conditioner

Amazing knowledge and I like to share this kind of information with my friends and hope they like it they why I do. naturopathic doctors calgary

Amazing knowledge and I like to share this kind of information with my friends and hope they like it they why I do. naturopathic doctors calgary

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. BUY FACEBOOK LIKES

My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more! manchester united live stream

I discovered your site ideal for me. It consists of wonderful and useful posts. I've read many of them and also got so much from them. In my experience, you do the truly amazing.Truly i'm impressed out of this publish cheap laptops

niche relevant backlinks Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importations your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it. high trust flow backlinks dofollow

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites forskolin

Mmm.. good to be here in your article or post, whatever, I think I should also work hard for my own website like I see some good and updated working in your site. tattoo studio lucan

Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! Simply put your blog post to my favorite blog list and will look forward for additional updates. Simply wanted to write down a word in order to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips. Best Autoliker 2016

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts. agen sbobet terpercaya

Always so interesting to visit your site.What a great info, thank you for sharing. this will help me so much in my learning voyance amour gratuite

In case that skips the chance to examine information about the solutions you are taking, oubtlessly you have seen the several amounts of sites where real specialists argue about Viagra and Cialis. viagra contrareembolso

I like your site. Superb submit. It is extremely precise, people ought to learn how to uncover just before they could uncover. lol i realize this particular appears funny nevertheless it is the majority of apparent.. لرن سایت

I am overwhelmed by your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable
blog site now

"I am overwhelmed by your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable
" فروشگاه مد روز

I feel really finicky reading these articles I mean there are writers that can write reasonable stuff.
term life insurance rates 5 year policies

This article is actually remarkable one it helps many new users that desire to read always the best stuff.
Sequoia Capital Shailandra Singh

We don't offer, exchange and lease your own data to others and do not offer your symbol loves to other site. We are utilizing your expression only for Free Fb Auto like Status and photograph like and We don't offer your own data to others. Outsider sites Auto Liker

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. THEREFORE, I would like to thank you for the Efforts You have made ​​in writing this article. michael spencer gilroy

I ‘d mention that most of us visitors are really endowed to exist in a fabulous place with very many wonderful individuals with very helpful things. beer delivery

Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one.article directory

That's what makes you the best. You should keep publishing more articles and you will Such Become One of the best writers ever more info

You have a decent point here!I thoroughly concur with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more individuals will read this article!!! Instagram Viewer

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Three Approaches

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. business relief

When you sell an investment at a profit, you will owe capital gains taxes on the money you make. Fortunately, investors can take steps to minimize.. EIS managers

More about the author A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.

Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who utilizes it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts man united stream

Each week we bring you some of the best reveals and conversations on the PurseForum, our favorite place to talk about fashion and whatever else strikes our fancy agen bola terpercaya