The San Antonio Spurs claimed its third NBA championship in dramatic fashion with an 81-74 game seven win over the Detroit Pistons on June 23. The victory capped an exciting season for San Antonio. It also helped establish the Spurs as one of the most successful franchises in professional sports over the last decade.
Spurs Chairman Peter M. Holt and his wife, Julianna, acquired controlling interest in the San Antonio Spurs in 1996. Similar to his Caterpillar dealership, Holt CAT, Holt maintains a “hands-off” style of leadership, providing strong support for key managers of the organization while trusting them to do their jobs with a minimum of ownership input except for decisions at the highest level.
Holt manages his Cat dealership, one of the largest in the world, by a style called Values Based Leadership. This management style is based on a set of core business values, with ethical being the first value, defined as “doing the right thing.”
The other core values are success, excellence, commitment and dynamic. Holt has carried Values Based Leadership over to the Spurs organization where it has been warmly embraced. Spurs players are expected to exhibit strong character, a tone set by David Robinson when he first joined the team in 1989.
Of course, the Spurs’ chances of success were enhanced when Holt was fortunate enough to win the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery. Since Tim Duncan joined the Spurs –– as the number one pick in the 1997 Draft –– San Antonio has posted the best regular-season wining percentage among any team in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL).
During this eight-year span, the Spurs have a 438-186 record, good for a winning percentage of .702. The next best team over this eight-year span is the Green Bay Packers with a .664 mark (85-43).
The Spurs have been able to convert its regular season success into postseason success, as San Antonio has claimed three NBA championships over the during seven years.
The Spurs won its first NBA title in 1999, defeating the New York Knicks 4-1. A second championship was added in 2003 when the Spurs beat the New Jersey Nets in a memorable six game series. The third championship puts the Spurs among NBA elite, as San Antonio becomes just the seventh team in NBA history to win three-or-more titles.
In his career, Duncan has appeared in 18 NBA Finals games, averaging 23.7 points, 15.1 rebounds and 3.22 blocks. He has been named the NBA Finals MVP for each of the Spurs championship runs. He also is one of only four players –– along with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal –– to win the NBA Finals MVP Award three-or-more times.
Holt’s team of managers, led by head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford, has assembled one of the most talented groups of players in the NBA. With the team’s core group of stars –– Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Bruce Bowen (all signed to long-term contracts) –– the Spurs might just be a dynasty in the making.
At a time when the machinery business is extremely good, Peter Holt has also been blessed in his other life as an NBA owner. And the future looks great in both ventures.