SAN ANTONIO - R.C. Buford did not win the NBA's Executive of the Year award Wedneday. He should have. Larry Bird of the Pacers finished first, Buford finished second.
No doubt Bird has done a tremendous job in turning around the Pacers, but the Pacers are not the Spurs. As is the case with every other award, the trophy should go to the very best. Not the second best, but the one with the biggest turnaround.
The Pacers did not have the best record in the NBA. That belonged to the Spurs.
The Spurs now start Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Three of their starting five were not on this roster last year and Diaw wasn't on it until the trade deadline. These are not the same old Spurs. This is a group that constantly evolves.
Buford traded George Hill to Bird for Leonard. A good deal for both teams, but Leonard has proven to be just what the Spurs needed. He's a future all-star. The gamble to move up in the draft to get him for Hill was a brave one, but Buford and the Spurs knew they would need someone to guard Kobe, Durant, Westbrook, Wade and Lebron come playoff time. Leonard will be that guy.
Buford signed Green off the scrap heap and now he has become one of the best three point threats on their roster.
Diaw? All he has done is fit right into a starting lineup and help with scoring, assists, rebounds and has quickly adapted to the team's defensive philosophy.
I think the Spurs past history actually hurt Buford this time around. Everyone always just assumes the Spurs are going to be good. Truth is, this is a team that was swept by the Suns in 2010. They lost in the first round in 2011. This year's resurgence is mostly due to the pieces around the Big 3, not because of them.
Bird has been good, but Buford has been better and voters should have seen that.