By: Jacob Walters
It’s not easy to dominate in the NBA as a team in a smaller market. This is especially true when the biggest names in the free agency market tend to lean towards big cities such as Los Angeles and Houston. However, there is a city that weathered that storm and managed to win five NBA titles in the process. Through brilliant drafts and acing the international market, the San Antonio Spurs have established themselves atop the NBA’s hierarchy. Their spot atop the NBA mountain would not have been possible without Peter Holt steering the ship.
Born on July 26, 1948 in Peoria, Illinois, Holt is the former CEO of HoltCat, the largest Caterpillar dealership in the United States. Holt bought the team in 1993, hoping to keep the team in San Antonio. Holt also owned San Antonio FC of the USL, the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, and the NBA Development League’s Austin Spurs before retiring in 2016. His wife. Julianna succeeded him and his son, Peter J. Holt, runs the day-to-day operations of the Spurs.
Let us start off with why Holt is the best owner in sports: the five NBA titles. San Antonio’s run at NBA prominence started in 1999, when they defeated the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals, 4-1. Those Spurs were led by Tim Duncan and David Robinson, i.e. the “Twin Towers”, giving San Antonio some scary presence in the paint. You got past one tower, you still had to get past the other. These two Hall of Fame players would go on to win another NBA title in 2003 together against the New Jersey Nets before Robinson retired.
So, what happens when your legendary center retires, leaving a huge hole in your defense? Well, you adapt and get one of the most underrated point guards in NBA history in Tony Parker. Along the way, you also get one of the most underrated shooting guards in the NBA in Manu Ginobili (who is also a favorite of Charles Barkley’s). As a result, San Antonio would go on to win three more NBA titles (2005, 2007, and 2014), even beating LeBron James twice along the way. To add to the pinnacle of success, the Spurs have made the playoffs for 22 straight seasons before falling short this season under the Holt regime. Holt’s Spurs made the transition from a tough team in the post to an up-and-down-the-floor team look smooth.
Peter Holt has also done an excellent job making the right moves. Aside from drafting Tim Duncan, who is a three-time NBA Finals MVP and two-time MVP, and the previously mentioned Ginobili and Parker, Holt hired Gregg Popovich as the Spurs’ head coach. Popovich is also the general manager and was even the vice president of Basketball Operations. Popovich’s legacy in San Antonio is well-documented; he has been named the NBA Coach of the Year three times, has coached in four NBA All-Star games, and is the longest-tenured coach in all of sports. Popovich even has the most wins (regular season and playoffs) in NBA history and has a winning record against every other NBA team during his tenure.
Holt has also done a great job making San Antonio one of the most forward-thinking sports franchises around. There are the small things that matter such as bringing Duncan back as an assistant coach and letting Popovich be outspoken on issues. Popovich has done an excellent job advocating for change in the country, being outspoken on issues stemming from President Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter, especially during the George Floyd murder. Popovich’s voice has eased the pressure off the Spurs on social issues as Popovich would just speak on behalf of the organization. Holt also hired the first full-time female assistant coach in the four major sports in Becky Hammon. Hammon spent her career in the WNBA playing for the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Silver Stars before becoming an assistant coach. Holt even made Hammon the Spurs’ Summer League coach, with her leading the Spurs to the Summer League title in 2015.
As for Holt himself, Holt has been a bastion of philanthropy work. Holt served as the chairman of the United Way of San Antonio and is currently a member of the World President’s Organization. Holt is also a trustee of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program and served as chairman of the board of St. Mary’s Hall, a private school in San Antonio. Holt has even won numerous awards aside from his five NBA titles. He was given the CAT Circle of Excellence Award and was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2004. He also was the 2014 USAA/NaVOBA Vetrepreneur of the Year and even won two NBA G League titles along the way (2012 and 2018). Those accolades make up an impressive legacy the size of Texas.
Without Peter Holt, the San Antonio Spurs would have been an irrelevant basketball team. A listless franchise that probably would have been relocated to the likes of St. Louis or Pittsburgh. Instead, Holt turned San Antonio into one of the NBA’s most silent powerhouses. There is an old saying in Texas that especially rings true in San Antonio: “Remember the Alamo”. Spurs fans and sports fans alike should remember Peter Holt as the best sports owner period.