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Last year's ranking: 2
Title track: 5
Fan relations: 1
Stadium experience: 18
Bang for the buck: 8
Now that Spurs GM R.C. Buford has finally (and justly) won the NBA Executive of the Year award, it's getting very hard to call anyone associated with our No. 1 team underappreciated. But you might not know this: Buford has been with the Spurs organization since 1988; Rick Pych, his counterpart on the business operations side, since 1993.To establish a culture, it helps if your executives have been around longer than some of your players have been alive.
You know that the Spurs have a very international flavor, yet seem very close to their hometown. You might not know: San Antonio is about 60 percent Latino, and also has seven military bases within 20 miles of downtown. "It's multicultural, with a high appreciation for character and discipline," says Buford of the city. "One hundred and 50 years ago, we were Mexico, which is different from Dallas or Houston."
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You know that the Spurs do a great job of finding undervalued talent. You might not know: During the 2011 draft, San Antonio offered to trade George Hill, a Gregg Popovich favorite, to Indiana if a mystery player were still available at the 15th pick. Indiana took the deal; the Spurs took the pick. That player was Kawhi Leonard. You know that the Big Three are playing at a discount. You might not know: Over the entire history of the NBA luxury tax, the Spurs have paid $12,597,554 in penalties, less than Charlotte paid Ben Gordon last year to shoot 34 percent in 19 games.
And, oh yeah, hot dogs at the AT&T Center cost $3.00, the cheapest in the NBA. The Spurs are an Ultimate Standings machine.