He's not a man that craves the recognition or publicity, which makes him a perfect fit for San Antonio and Gregg Popovich. It's telling that the best photo of him in the database is one from last year in an opposing arena. In his hometown, he's does all he can to blend into the background.
But the league has noticed his work and he'll be forced to take center stage now.
San Antonio Spurs general manager RC Buford has been named the 2013-14 NBA Executive of the Year, the league 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. Of the 16 teams that qualified for this year's playoffs, San Antonio was the lone team with only one Top 10 draft pick on its roster.
"I'm extremely happy for RC Buford to have won this award, which is both absolutely deserved and long overdue," said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. "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."
Buford, now in his 23rd season with San Antonio and 12th as general manager, is the third Spurs executive to receive the award. Bob Bass was honored in 1989-90 and Angelo Drossos won it in 1978-79.
One of Buford's biggest moves heading into 2013-14 took place on July 10, 2013, when the Spurs signed free agent Marco Belinelli. The seven-year NBA veteran enjoyed his best season, averaging 11.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting a career-best .485 (337-695) from the field and .430 (126-293) from three-point range which ranked fifth in the NBA.
San Antonio also re-signed guard Manu Ginobili and center Tiago Splitter to multiyear contracts in July and secured guard Patty Mills and forward Boris Diaw with player options.
Since making the move to the front office in the summer of 1994, Buford has been a central figure in shaping the Spurs roster by with international talent. At the start of the 2013-14 season the Silver and Black had a roster made up of 10 international players, the most in NBA history. The current roster is comprised of nine players born outside of the continental United States, which leads the NBA.
During his tenure as general manager, Buford has played an integral role in keeping the Spurs core of Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan together. As a trio the "Big Three" have played 675 games together and have amassed 498 wins, second in NBA history behind the Celtics trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish (540 wins).
The longstanding trio 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 also holds the title of President of Sports Franchises for Spurs Sports & Entertainment, presiding over the WNBA's San Antonio Stars, the NBA Development League's Austin Toros and the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, in addition to the Spurs.
Buford totaled 58 points and received nine first-place votes from a panel of his fellow team basketball executives throughout the NBA. The Phoenix Suns' Ryan McDonough finished second with 47 points (five first-place votes) votes and the Portland Trail Blazers' Neil Olshey finished third with 34 points (five first-place votes). Executives were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
Great job, R.C. Nice to see your work finally being appreciated by the national pundits. Try to take a moment to appreciate it before going back to work, ok?