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Spurs Contract Execution Was For the Birds


There are a number of sayings that could apply to the following story. “A job’s not done until the money’s in the bank”, “A contract isn’t binding until signed by both parties” or “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”….. or perhaps some other oft cited colloquialism.

The National Basketball Association tipped off its 2013-14 season off last week and the San Antonio Spurs—last season's Western Conference champions—are ready to defend their conference crown and take another shot at an NBA title with their core group of players. The expectations are high in San Antonio this year, particularly when you consider the effort the team put in to bring everyone back.

Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginóbili is known for being one of the smoothest players on the basketball court, but the process of renewing his contract was anything but. This summer, Ginóbili was back in his home country of Argentina, where he spends every off season. He had agreed to re-sign with the Spurs, but his new contract had to be signed. Rather than using an automated system or eSignature service to send a digital copy of the contract to Ginóbili's home, the Spurs sent an intern to Argentina so the star guard could sign his two-year, $14.5 million deal.

The signing process was relatively seamless, but once the intern was set to return to the United States, trouble ensued. According to the New York Times, the intern was attacked by a bird just hours before his flight from Buenos Aires. The attack, which took place in a local park, caused the intern to put down his backpack to defend and then re-situate himself. The backpack was promptly stolen and, before the intern had an opportunity to realize what happened, it was gone.

The bag consisted of a number of important items, including a team-issued laptop, the intern's passport, his cellphone and, of course, Ginóbili's signed contract. Fortunately, an assistant with the team was traveling to Buenos Aires and he was able to bring a fresh copy to Ginóbili, get it signed and returned it to San Antonio without incident.

Sean Marks, the team's director of basketball operations, was able to joke about the situation later, saying how fortunate the team was that no birds got to the assistant during the second attempt at bringing a signed contract back to Texas. However, the team is aware that the initial signed contract is still out there.

"We were all waiting for Manu's contract to show up on eBay," he told the Times. "It hasn't yet."

Certainly, the Spurs—valued at $527 million earlier this year by Forbes—have the resources to manage contract signings in any way they choose and must have believed that hand delivering Ginóbili's contract not only provided the personal touch, but also mitigated other issue potential issues we are not aware of. Contract negotiations can frequently take on a life of their own, as this one did, after the negotiation had already been completed. Certainly this one is for the contract record books. This contract execution was for the birds.

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