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Spurs’ R.C. Buford wins Executive of the Year

May 7, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT

2013 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability 2013 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability

How has Gregg Popovich won only one Coach of the Year award? How has R.C. Buford never won Executive of the Year?

Consider those perceived Spurs-related slights fixed and fixed.

After Popovich earned his second Coach of the Year in the last three seasons (bringing his total to three), longtime Spurs general manager Buford won the 2013-14 Executive of the Year.

Consider this a lifetime achievement award. Buford’s key moves in the last year – signing Marco Belinelli, re-signing Manu Ginobili, re-signing Tiago Splitter, drafting Livio Jean-Charles – are pedestrian relative to Buford’s years of team-building.

Seventeen general managers – most of the league – received votes, and 11 received first-place votes. That parity created an opening for Buford to win in a season his biggest accomplishment was keeping in tact everything he’d assembled previously.

I feel bad for the Suns’ Ryan McDonough, who was my choice for the honor and finished second. In his first year on the job, he made the Suns better in the short term and set them up beautifully for the long term by acquiring multiple first-round picks. I believe he did the best job this year, which is what the award is literally supposed to honor. It’s just bad luck to do so in a year voters – the NBA’s 30 top executives themselves – decide to honor someone’s entire career.

But in that sense, the whole award is a little silly. Being a good general manger requires long-term strategizing, and good moves often don’t reveal themselves in the year they occur. Maybe they should hand out this award each year based on the previous five seasons. That would at least more accurately reflect the job these executives are doing.

Buford is one of the NBA’s best – maybe even the best – general manager, and he deserves some type of recognition for that. The 2013-14 Executive of the Year probably isn’t the most appropriate choice, but it’s all there is to give, and in that sense, it’s well-earned.

Full voting (first-, second-, third-place votes, total points)

1. R.C. Buford, San Antonio (9-3-4-58)

2. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix (5-6-4-47)

3. Neil Olshey, Portland (5-2-3-34)

4. Masai Ujiri, Toronto (3-3-4-28)

5. Pat Riley, Miami (1-3-1-15)

5. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City (1-3-1-15)

7. Danny Ainge, Boston (1-2-2-13)

8. Billy King, Brooklyn (2 -0-1-11)

9. Daryl Morey, Houston (0-3-1-10)

9. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington (1-1-2-10)

11. Rod Higgins, Charlotte (1-0-1-6)

11. Larry Bird, Indiana (0-2-0-6)

11. Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers (0-1-3-6)

14. Bob Myers, Golden State (1-0-0-5)

15. Danny Ferry, Atlanta (0-1-0-3)

16. Gar Forman, Chicago (0-0-2-2)

17. Donnie Nelson, Dallas (0-0-1-1)

  1. amlowlife - May 7, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Congrats R.C.–But can you do anything about Pop’s legs? Looks like a spray tan might be in order…

    • pbtunpaidwriter - May 8, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      LOL how did Billy King make this list? Esp at #8?!

  2. spursareold - May 7, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    Marco Belinelli was probably the underrated signing of the summer.

  3. m4a188 - May 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    1st paragraph – “How has Gregg Popovich won only one Coach of the Year award?”

    3rd paragraph – “After Popovich earned his second Coach of the Year in the last three seasons”


    • casualcommenter - May 7, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      Not only that, but the writer even writes, “After Popovich earned his second Coach of the Year in the last three seasons (bringing his total to three).”

      Basic math lesson. If a coach has a total of 3 awards after winning one this year, that means the number of awards he had before this season was

      3 – 1 = 2. Not 1, but 2.

      Pop had 2 awards in 2003 and 2012 before winning this one…

    • ranfan12 - May 7, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      i love this site lol

  4. kinggw - May 7, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Ujiri should’ve won.He got rid of two contracts many thought were unmovable and in the process helped turn a team everyone thought was destined for the lottery into a playoff team that was a basket away from the second round.

    • spursareold - May 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      The thing working against Ujiri is that he won last year. I’m also not sure that the Knicks’ stupidity should be in his success column. That’s like tricking a little kid.

      • duhwighthoward - May 7, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        the voter fatigue argument? it’s probable. considering karl malone won mvp while Jordan played.

    • duhwighthoward - May 7, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Solid argument.

      Also, you could add that he said, “F— Brooklyn!”

  5. bobmcbigballs - May 7, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Thought Exec of the Year referred to this current year, the 2013-2014 season. What a joke.

    • therealhtj - May 7, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Lifetime Achievement Award. Even the article admitted his moves this year weren’t all awe-inspiring.

  6. sunsbolts7 - May 7, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Executive of the YEAR!! Key word is YEAR! As in past 365 days. Ryan McDonough is clearly the actual winner of executive of the YEAR! He traded Luis Scola for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and a 1st round pick and somehow only gave up Jared Dudley and a 2nd rounder and got Eric Bledsoe. Name anyone else who got so much back after giving up so little?

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