Over the years, the San Antonio Spurs have become a model for success in the NBA. For over a decade, they have epitomized consistency, habitually asserting their dominance over the rest of the league en route to four championships.
However, while Gregg Popovich and his acclaimed squad are often praised for their unrelenting success, often overlooked is the rest of the organization and the hidden masterminds who have helped the team reach its current position.
Owners are often overlooked in the NBA, with few fans being able to name more than a handful. Mark Cuban often comes to mind, known for his bold personality and his public involvement in the Dallas Mavericks franchise. In San Antonio, owner Peter Holt hasn’t garnered the same amount of name recognition as the aforementioned, but he has undoubtedly left a positive mark on the city of San Antonio.
Earlier in the year, Holt was elected chairman of the NBA Board of Governors—a title proving his interest in both the league, as well as the respect that he has accrued from others around the association.
His assistance in spending decisions have allowed for the Spurs to maximize their talents without consistently exceeding the luxury tax. Though, he has certainly been careful not to interfere inordinately, but hasn’t turned his shoulder on the franchise in times of need.
Also unknown to the casual NBA in fan is general manager RC Buford. He has managed the behind-the-scenes kinks, constantly structuring championship-caliber squads without blowing up rosters and spending unreasonable sums of money.
Using superstars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker as a core, Buford has surrounded them with talent, whether by free agency, trades or the draft, without a complete overhaul, but making necessary changes nonetheless.
He has specifically demonstrated a talent for discovering hidden gems despite late picks—bringing players like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker into the mix after falling deep into the second and first rounds. In recent years, Buford has used the draft to surround the nucleus with overlooked players like DeJuan Blair and George Hill, while also investing in overseas talent like Tiago Splitter.
Other franchises struggle to find talent even with lottery picks, but Buford and the Spurs front office has ensured that they never fall behind, adding young role players to keep the Spurs in title contention even as their stars age.
But while Holt and Buford have helped the team in numerous ways, the true genius is head coach Gregg Popovich, who—despite a controversial start—has established himself as a Hall of Fame caliber coach.
Popovich’s wizardry has helped the Spurs turn otherwise benchwarmers into valuable role players and role players into stars—a prime reason for the Spurs continued success. His in-game management is top notch, as is his ability to inspire a family-type atmosphere within the San Antonio locker room, to ensure that tension is rare and non-basketball related issues are kept to a minimum.
You would be hard pressed to find a more respected coach in professional sports, and certainly within the NBA; Pop ranks at the very top. Even when the odds are against the team, he has ensured that the long-running dynasty doesn’t collapse and will until he calls it quits.
The Spurs were recently named the professional sports franchise of the decade, and while they certainly have their fair share of on-court wizards, their success speaks loads to the intelligence of their management.
Against all odds, the Spurs have remained one of the most successful franchises in professional sports, and with another season headed in the right direction, the team has plenty of people to thank as it eyes another championship.