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Spurs' R.C. Buford wins NBA's 2013-14 Executive of the Year

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

After a long time of success, R.C. Buford (left) is named top executive. (USATSI)
After a long time of success, R.C. Buford (left) is named top executive. (USATSI)

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R.C. Buford is as much of a staple of the San Antonio Spurs' organization as any other employee. Tim Duncan has been there since 1997. Gregg Popovich has been with the organization the past 20 years and 24 years overall as an employee. Buford has been with the Spurs in various capacities the past 23 years. Since 2002 he's been the general manager shaping arguably the best NBA franchise in that time, yet hadn't won the NBA's Executive of the Year award until Wednesday.

The NBA announced a panel of team executives voted Buford as the 2013-14 NBA Executive of the Year, his first award and the third award in the franchise's history. Angelo Drossos won as the Spurs' executive in 1977-78, and Bob Bass won in 1988-89. From the NBA:

San Antonio Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford is the recipient of the 2013-14 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year award, the NBA announced today.

Buford assembled a roster this season that featured six players averaging double figures in scoring and eight players averaging 20 or more minutes. The Spurs clinched homecourt advantage for the 2014 postseason by virtue of having posted the league's best record at 62-20 (.756). San Antonio was the only team to record 30-plus wins both at home (32-9, .780) and on the road (30-11, .732), and the 2013-14 campaign marked the 15th consecutive season that the Spurs posted 50-plus wins – an NBA record.

The longstanding trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker has been fortified in recent years with the additions of Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills (third seasons with the team), as well as Danny Green and Tiago Splitter (fourth seasons with the team). Buford added Marco Belinelli this past offseason, who fit seamlessly into the rotation, with averages of 11.4 ppg (fifth on the team) and 25.2 mpg (fourth on the team).

You could argue Buford didn't do much to this roster in the offseason, switching out reserve Gary Neal for Marco Belinelli, re-signing Tiago Splitter to a four-year contract and bringing back Manu Ginobili on a cheaper deal, which turned out great with him having a much better season than in 2012-13. Whether this was "well-deserved" or an achievement bestowed because it's amazing he hasn't won the award a couple times already, this wasn't a media-based award incorrectly voted upon.

Executives around the league decided the award, feeling their peer in San Antonio (who really is above everybody else in terms of longevity and success) was most deserving. He received nine of the 30 first-place votes, with no other executive receiving more than five.

Phoenix's Ryan McDonough, who came in second, remade a roster in one year that nearly made the playoffs in the West when the Suns were expected to be near the bottom of the league. Neil Olshey (third) gave the Portland Trail Blazers a solid bench after they had the worst second unit in the league a year ago. Masai Ujiri (fourth) took over the Toronto Raptors and brought them back to the playoffs with his moves.

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