San Antonio GM R.C. Buford has won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award, the league announced. It’s the first such honor for Buford, who’s served as the primary basketball executive for the Spurs since July of 2002. He beat out first-year Suns GM Ryan McDonough and Blazers GM Neil Olshey in a wide-open race that saw 11 executives draw first-place votes from their front office colleagues around the league.
“I’m extremely happy for R.C. Buford to have won this award, which is both absolutely deserved and long overdue,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement from the team. “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.”
The Spurs have won three championships and made it to four Finals during Buford’s tenure atop the team’s basketball operations department. San Antonio compiled a league-best 62-20 record after a summer in which Buford made key signings to largely bring back the same roster that came within a hair’s breadth of the title last season. Buford re-signed Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili, and added Marco Belinelli, who served as a key piece off the bench for much of the season.
McDonough and Olshey finished second and third, respectively, followed by Toronto’s Masai Ujiri, who was last year’s winner, and Miami’s Pat Riley. Billy King of the Nets, Sam Presti of the Thunder, Danny Ainge of the Celtics, Ernie Grunfeld of the Wizards, Rod Higgins of the Bobcats and Bob Myers of the Warriors were the others who received first-place votes.
It’s the second consecutive year that the same team has had both the Executive of the Year and the Coach of the Year. Popovich won this year’s Coach of the Year honors last month, while Ujiri and George Karl pulled off the double for the Nuggets in 2012/13. Neither remained with Denver for this season, but Buford and Popovich seem destined to stay in San Antonio for the foreseeable future.