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In a franchise that has no time for spotlights, with a roster that has no interest in headlines, R.C. Buford may be the very embodiment of the all-for-one San Antonio Spurs. For more than two decades he has toiled in the shadows, happy to let the attention fall on coach Gregg Popovich and the team that Buford has played such a pivotal role in assembling. He quietly -- happily -- lives in the back channels and has built a reputation as one of the most respected executives in the NBA. Yet for all his impressive work over the previous 11 years as a general manager and architect of the most enduring success story in modern American sports, Buford had never been honoured by his peers as the leagues executive of the year. Until now. Buford won the award Wednesday, and as is the custom in the Alamo City, did as much as he could to downplay his significant contributions to a team that posted the best record in the NBA. "I think its not why we do what we do," Buford said. "I think its a great honour for the group of people that have been here and have been through here that have built and an ownership group thats allowed a continuity to build a program that were proud of so to be recognized as a program that people respect by your peers, thats rewarding." That Buford had never won the award before while helping to put together a team that won four championships and has posted a staggering 15 straight 50-win seasons has been one of the great mysteries in league annals. Hes helped put the Spurs at the forefront of the international invasion, implemented a system that demands commitment and humility over recognition and individual achievement, and has been partly responsible for so many teams pilfering his staff to run front offices or teams across the league. Yet he may have finally earned the award in his 12th season as GM because of what he didnt do. In the wake of a devastating loss to Miami in the NBA Finals last season, Buford didnt panic. He didnt give up on an aging Manu Ginobili. He didnt let Tiago Splitter get lured away by big money elsewhere. He followed the Spurs creed: Stay the course. Believe in the system. Never give in to outside influence. While other teams chased huge stars and made big splashes, Buford quietly re-signed Ginobili and Splitter and added second-tier free agent Marco Belinelli. The moves werent flashy, but were exactly what the Spurs, who enter Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night leading Portland 1-0, needed to recover from that bitter defeat. "Its pretty cool," Popovich said. "Were all excited for him; long overdue. Hes done a great job for a very long time. Were giving him the requisite amount of you-know-what all over the offices. He walks down the halls we hit the walls we hit the sides to make room for him." Buford received nine first-place votes and 58 total points to win the award. Phoenixs Ryan McDonough (47) finished second for his superb job in turning the Suns from an afterthought into a 48-win team that just missed the playoffs. Neil Olshey, who added Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson to bolster the Trail Blazers depth and get them into the playoffs, finished third in the voting with 34 points. Torontos Masai Ujiri and Miamis Pat Riley rounded out the top five. Popovich and Buford have made the Spurs the envy of the league, assembling one of the most uniquely stable systems in professional sports built around Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili, a trio that has won three championships together and keep coming back for more. "Weve been working with each other for a long time," Popovich said. "We participate in everything. Its been a great relationship in that regard. We share everything its benefited both of us and the organization without a doubt. Just having that ability to communicate and having an owner that allows us to do that." Popovich gets more of the credit for making the Spurs machine go, and thats just fine with Buford. But most around the league, and certainly everyone in San Antonio, recognizes what a big role Buford has played in helping the Spurs avoid the teardowns that almost every franchise has endured since he and Pop took over. "You recognize how difficult that is and how fortunate weve been that an ownership group has allowed us to stay together and have the opportunity to survive through the growing pains," Buford said. "To have a group of players that have wanted to be a part of what this community of San Antonio and what our fans mean to them. To have wanted to stay with an ownership group the sacrifices that theyve made to make this a unique environment and then how theyve handled themselves that presents a platform that other players want to come join. "Again, were not in this to win an award. Were in this to try to win a championship. Thats the reward were all hoping for." 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The 20-year-old Blaney wont be the only kid pushing a podium finish. Mike Adams Jersey . The injury will keep the Finnish forward out of the Olympics. The 29-year-old has 20 goals and 41 points in 56 games this season, his first with Tampa Bay.NEW ORLEANS - With breakaway dunks, putback dunks and even a banked 21-foot fade as he was fouled, Anthony Davis continued to make franchise history for the New Orleans Pelicans. Meanwhile, LeBron James played through back soreness, only to twist his ankle and see his two-time defending champion Miami Heat fall to a seventh loss in 11 games. Davis had 30 points, 11 rebounds and three steals — giving him a franchise record three straight 30-point, 10-rebound games — and the Pelicans pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 105-95 victory on Saturday night. "I dont care what I score as long as we win," Davis said. "But if it comes to me, Im not going to turn down any shots. Whoever has the hot hand, the team goes to them to make sure they stay in their groove." Davis, an All-Star in only his second pro season out of Kentucky, has been in a remarkable groove for someone who just turned 21 this month. He has scored at least 28 points and grabbed at least nine rebounds in eight straight games, the longest such streak since Shaquille ONeal did it 12 games in a row with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001. "Hes spectacular. Hes getting better every single day," James said of Davis. "When you know youre a star and your team looks at you as a leader, as a star, you make plays and thats what hes doing." James twisted his right ankle while stepping on Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans foot during a drive to the hoop late in the third quarter. He remained in the game and finished with 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. It was not enough for Miami, which gave guard Dwyane Wade and centre Greg Oden the night off following Fridays victory at Memphis. "Put another injury on my list," James said. "It is what it is. Im not using it as an excuse." James thinks the Heat already have enough of them, and his annoyance was evident. "Its too many excuses. Everything is an excuse. We do something wrong, its an excuse. We dont get a stop, its an excuse. We turn the ball over, its an excuse," James said. "What were doing right now aint good enough. "Its very frustrating. Were all frustrated," James continued. "We just got to all get on the same page. I dont know what were going to do, but weve got to figure it out.dddddddddddd" One thing James made clear was that the solution would not entail more rest for him, despite his back and ankle soreness. "I dont have time to take off," he said. "We dont have time to take off." Pelicans guard Eric Gordon also sat out with a sore left knee, but New Orleans got 14 points from Evans, 12 from Al-Farouq Aminu and 11 from Luke Babbitt. Mario Chalmers scored 19 points and Michael Beasley 16 for Miami, which trailed for all but 18 seconds of the second half and trailed by as much as 16 in the fourth quarter. "Yes, our locker room is angry," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Were not accustomed to this type of play, these type of standards, particularly on the defensive end, and if we want to change, we have to look inward." Babbitt was making his first start of the season and hit three 3-pointers. The Pelicans were 7 of 17 from long range and hit 51 per cent (43 of 84) of their shots from the field. Miami shot 50.7 per cent (37 of 73), but turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 19 New Orleans points. New Orleans, which has won two straight, also outrebounded Miami 38-33. Toney Douglas started for Wade, but was called for his fourth foul after turning the ball over to Davis early in the third quarter and played only 13:52. The Pelicans led 76-72 after three periods, but began to pull away early in the fourth even as Davis was resting on the bench. Anthony Morrow, who had 10 points, hit his second 3 to give New Orleans an 85-76 lead with nine minutes left. Davis checked in shortly after, and put the Pelicans up 92-78 on a 21-foot bank shot as he was fouled by Chris Andersen. Miami opened the game on a 10-2 run, which turned out to be its biggest lead of the game. Then the Heat got sloppy. The Pelicans scored off of turnovers by James, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh during a 15-3 run, highlighted by Davis steal from Bosh for a breakaway dunk. Davis had 14 points in the first half, and his putback dunk put New Orleans up 43-38 before Ray Allens 3 and James 19-foot fadeaway helped pull Miami to 45-43 at halftime. Notes: The Pelicans victory was their first over Miami since November 2010. ... Bosh finished with 12 points for the Heat and Allen had 10. 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