Co-Execs of Year? Need new ballot

CHICAGO — Chicago’s Gar Forman and Miami’s Pat Riley each got 11 votes, among the 30 cast, to share the 2010-11 NBA Executive of the Year Award. But the Bulls’ John Paxson was third with three votes, one more than San Antonio’s R.C. Buford.

So are Forman and Riley really co-winners? Or did Chicago deserve the trophy by virtue of getting more votes than the Heat?

The award, voted on by executives of the league’s 30 teams, wound up with a muddled result because it remains a simple ballot in an increasingly complex world. These days, there aren’t just “general managers” who make all the personnel moves for an NBA team – there are, and have been for quite a while now, people holding a variety of titles who handle those duties, sometimes in multiples in the same front offices. The days of one-man shows like Red Auerbach making the trades, scouting prospects, scheduling flights and paying the beer vendors are ovah!

Forman, for instance, is the Chicago “GM” while Paxson is the “executive vice president of basketball operations.” Riley is the Heat’s “president.” But he didn’t split any votes with Nick Arison, Miami’s “VP of basketball operations,” or Andy Elisburg, the Heat’s “assistant GM,” because in Miami everyone knows that Riley’s voice is first and last.

In Chicago, maybe that’s not always so clear. At least it didn’t seem to be to the NBA execs – a hodgepodge of GMs, VPs, executive VPs and presidents themselves – who did the voting.

This has reared its head before. In 2008-09, Denver VP of basketball operations Mark Warkentien won the Executive of the Year Award with nine votes, but Rex Chapman – the Nuggets’ VP of player personnel – got named on one ballot instead. It was a close race, too, with Cleveland’s Danny Ferry finishing with seven votes and Orlando’s Otis Smith with six.

The problem is that the ballot is simply a fill-in-the-blank form, with voters free to choose – or left to guess at – whoever and whatever title they choose. Mark Broussard, NBA senior director of communications, confirmed that there is no list of 30 candidates, one per franchise, to guide the voters.

This is a little sloppy for a league that prides itself on precision in its voting processes. It won’t, for example, let certain players be listed at alternative positions for awards and honors – Tim Duncan for years had to be a “forward” on the All-Star ballot even though he played some center for the Spurs and the Western Conference needed centers. (Of course, when West coach Gregg Popovich picked a replacement starter for Houston’s Yao Ming this year, he went with – that’s right – Tim Duncan in the middle.)

Here are two suggestions for fixing the ballot and avoiding this year’s split result:

  1. Send out a list of 30 candidates – one from each front office – from which the voters must select. If need be, make it a pre-printed punch card.
  2. Tweak the definition of the award and maybe even the name – “NBA Front Office of the Year Award” – and make it a team entry.

If the league would have gone with a team entry this year, Chicago would have beaten Miami, 14-11.


  1. long memory says:

    2010- 2011 EXECUTIVE of the year award. Not a “Best team with the best record award”!! Lets look at the list
    2010 winner John Hamman from Milwaukee – (definately no best record there)
    2009 winner Mark Warkenstien – Denver
    2008 winner Danny Ainge (ironically for bringing together THE BIG THREE!!!)
    2007 winner Bryan Colangelo – Toronto
    2006 winner Elgin Baylor – L.A Clippers
    you can go on an on… hardly ANY best records.
    Since this list started there has NeVeR been Co-Executive until this year and the reason why…?….Resentment Like i said. The best “EXECUTIVE”.- not team… is HANDS DOWN Pat Riley. Gar did and excellent job just not the BEST job. And anyone that disagree’s are the same people with the same Resentment.

  2. CD says:

    The voting (like our own national voting system) needs to be fixed. And the Bulls franchise got the votes because of their performance over the regular season. So those of you arguing that they’re not doing well enough in the playoffs have no point. Yes, Pat Riley did score the big three for Miami but obviously it wasn’t enough for voters to give him the award unanimously. Also, I read an article that said Riley isn’t exactly the most popular guy in the league.

    The acquisitions of Boozer, Korver, Brewer, Thomas, Asik, Watson, and yes even Scalabrine have all paid dividends for the Bulls, regardless of them being starters, role-players, or bench-riders. And it’s apparent in their record for the regular season. Not to take anything away from Miami and their success with their pick-ups, but they just didn’t do enough in the regular season. Part of it (I think) is the way the Heat have “under achieved”. They didn’t meet the expectations that they blew up before the season with that big celebration party. And it didn’t help that Van Gundy propped them up to win 70 games this season.

    IMO, the award should have been given to the Chicago Bulls organization…and again, I’m strictly speaking about the regular season performance. And just speculation…how hard was it for Riley to actually acquire James and Bosh if it was already in the making?!?!?!

  3. long memory says:


  4. long memory says:

    Plain and simple… Resentment. Pat Riley should have gotten every vote. Nobody in this year or even in this decate signed 3 of the top 10… 2 of the top 5 in their prime for 6 YEARS!! GM’s around the league as well as fans HATED the fact that he could get those 3 together. (so much so that people still don’t want to believe it) (making up ridiculous acusations etc.) Pat Riley can care less about a gm award and the Resentment is only going to get worse if / when Miami wins.

  5. gil says:

    I agree Pat Riley didn’t do thing so give to Dwayne Wade !!!!!!!
    You people reward the wrong person

  6. Doremon says:

    Pat Riley didn’t do nothing. Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and LBJ already knew what they were going to do. They only went through the motions to add hype to the whole charade.

  7. Jrok says:

    Why did the bulls get any votes ? Pat riley managed to sign the big three .. the bulls signed boozer who hasnt played particularly great .. And kyle korver who is solid but still comes off the bench ?? Derrick roses improvement this year was spectacular but he was drafted a couple years back ? .. yes the did get the coach of the year but when you compare it to what riley did with the heat, the riley has this, hands down .!

  8. err yeah... says:

    the votes are given to the people who the voters believe made the best decisions. If Pat Riley has full authority in Miami whereas Forman doesn’t and shares some decision making with Paxson, that’s there problem. They have less workload than Riley and consequently forced a split in their votes. That’s the bulls problem not the awards.

  9. I like the idea of listing 30 candidates from each team. I think Pat Riley really deserved this award. He signed the top 3, most coveted free agents in Lebron, Wade & Bosh. Chicago tried and did not. NY tried and did not. Sure Dwayne Wade no doubt helped persuade Lebron & Bosh…. but Riley cleared the cap space and gave a vision that these players believe in. If Miami would not have signed these guys Riley would have been first to be blamed, so since they did he must be given credit. Having said all that congrats to both Pat and Gar. Ultimately individual awards do not matter, the NBA Championship is what matters. Miami and Chicago are both still in the hunt…. what team goes the furthest? That can be the tie breaker between the two 2011 co-winners.

  10. Symokoto says:

    i like the team entry idea. im not a bulls fan by any means, but in terms of completeness and fairness it seems the best choice.