For casual viewers of the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, that man you didn’t recognize, R.C. Buford, won NBA’s Executive of the Year Wednesday, marking the second straight season and third out of the last four the NBA’s Executive and Coach of the Year have come from the same organization. Gregg Popovich took Coach of the Year honors on April 22.
San Antonio didn’t make Popovich or Buford look very good the next two games they played after Pop was named Coach of the Year, losing to the eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs, however, bounced back to win four of their last five, the last two in blowout fashion over Dallas and Portland.
Credit has to go to Popovich and R.C. for building a force as Phil Jackson refers San Antonio’s dominance over the past 17 seasons. The Spurs have won at least 50 games the last 15 years thanks to the genetic makeup of those two great minds as well as owner Peter Holt largely butting out of their basketball decisions.
The last two routs during Game 7 and Game 1 illustrate San Antonio’s dominance since 1997-98 to a “T,” starting with Tony Parker transforming his game from being unable to shoot mid-range jumpers to virtually being able to shoot with high accuracy from anywhere on the floor.
Parker had 32 and 33 points the last two contests for the Spurs, who also got a wealth of help from the bench. San Antonio’s reserves are at the top of the NBA in five major offensive categories (first with 45.1 points, first with 48 percent shooting, second with 40 percent from 3, first with 81 percent free throws and first with 11.1 assists a game).
For the first time ever in NBA history a team did not have a single member average more than 30 minutes per game. Tony led the Spurs with 29.4 MPG, followed by Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard with 29.2 and 29.1 MPG, respectively.
As well none of the silver and black played in all 82 regular-season contests with Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli coming the closest with 81 and 80. All that is because of Pop and Buford, who despite being San Antonio’s general manager since 2002, had not won the Executive of the Year award until Wednesday. Like the Spurs’ four championships, R.C. does his work quietly and out of the spotlight.
Every year San Antonio is told they are too old and didn’t make enough changes to their roster to compete in the Western Conference or an NBA title and every season analysts and people are proven wrong. As long as Popovich (has been a part of the franchise the last 24 years) is roaming the sidelines and R.C. (has been a part of the franchise the last 23 years) is observing nearby the Spurs will continue being a force.