Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Author: Josh Fisher
R.C. Buford remains the unsung hero of the great San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty. Anyone can get lucky and nab a Tim Duncan; that’s simply right place, right time. But holding your superstars across multiple decades; finding late-round gems in Manu & TP, and developing them into stars; maintaining the stability of that core over time; fitting the perfect pieces around your “big-three,” year after year, that is true management artistry. Without minimizing the brilliance of Coach Pop (he’s one of the best in any sport) or Tim Duncan (As R.C. said “you need a generational talent), R.C. Buford achieved a level of consistent long-term excellence within the Spurs’ organization that is almost impossible to duplicate.
Prior to preparing for our interview of R.C. Buford on SODE #255 of the Charity Stripe, I never really thought about how good of an executive R.C. Buford has been. For me, it was always about Pop and the players in San Antonio. As I completed my research for the show, I began to understand the type of brilliant NBA executive R.C. Buford really is.
It was one of those names to a faces type moments, in a weird way, where the more I read and watched, the more I realized that were weren’t interviewing “an advisor to Obama,” we were interviewing “The Obama…of San Antonio Sports.”
Being totally transparent, which is in part the purpose of these recaps, it was nerve wracking as I prepared to interview one of the great NBA executives of all-time. I can tell you the ‘skinny’ of what went down in the show, but I want you to listen, or I can give you a blurb about “R.C,” but we all have Wikipedia. I think the fun in a post like this is to understand how we (I will speak for the other lads the best I can) were feeling before/during/after the show. So yes, the nerves. Now was I throwing up? Absolutely not. It takes a lot for myself and the guys to get legitimately rattled, after all we used to do shows WITH GUESTS out of my bedroom. But when guests, such as R.C. come along, meaning guests who you ‘know’ but don’t ‘know-know,’ you can’t fly by the seat of your pants; which is an easy to get in the habit of doing when you’ve done this as many times as we have.
So, we had to get our research done. Hindsight 20/20, I’m satisfied with the job we did in that department; satisfied not elated. I think it’s always important to look back and asses our shows: “what went well and why did it go well?” and “what could we’ve been better at?” Let me say, I love the final product, I am happy with this show. And I don’t think it should, but I had the feeling inside that wish I knew more. Which is tough, because to know more about the topic of “Spurs basketball” than the head executive is a tall-task, and at that point are we trying to guarantee we have a good show and our guest has an enjoyable time, or are we trying to have a dick measuring contest of hoops-knowledge? As I stream of consciousness this blog post I am reminding myself that ‘knowing’ is the not the first, nor the second, most important action of interviewing/hosting; it’s listening and reacting.
Reacting, leaving the script, on this one led us to some of the best moments. Getting the Patty Mills story was completely unexpected; even our friends who are Spurs fans had never heard that one, very cool feeling.
It was also really interesting to see how much the Spurs culture lived in R.C. as a person. He was calm and matter of fact, much like the Coach Pop we’ve all come to love. And like Coach Pop, he had a great candidness about him, an air where it made you feel like anything was on the table if you really wanted to know. It was great to hear him revere Tim Duncan for his greatness and give him ‘the most’ credit for the Spurs dynasty. It made me think that if we asked Duncan who deserves the credit, he would say Pop, who would then say Manu and/or Tony, and either or when then say R.C. And the credit for the great Spurs dynasty would be passed around like the ball on the court, fast and fluid. Which goes to remind us, and you, one man/woman does not a team make. But one man/woman can sure as hell make for one great podcast, so thanks for the time R.C., this was one for the books.