NEW YORK – The NBA G League today named the Santa Cruz Warriors as its Franchise of the Year and Erie BayHawks President Matt Bresee as the Team Executive of the Year for the 2020-21 NBA G League season. NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim made the announcement at the league’s annual Sales & Marketing Meetings.
A selection committee comprised of league executives determined the winner of the Franchise of the Year award. The NBA G League’s 28 teams were evaluated based on the NBA G League’s three core pillars: Compete with Intensity, Lead with Integrity and Inspire Play. The Team Executive of the Year was selected by a vote of the league’s team presidents.
This year marks the second time that the Warriors were named Franchise of the Year after being honored with the inaugural award in 2018 and the first time a BayHawks executive has received the Team Executive of the Year Award since the award was created in 2010.
NBA G League Franchise of the Year – Santa Cruz Warriors
The Santa Cruz Warriors, the affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, was named the fourth recipient of the Franchise of the Year after the award was created in 2018.
Faced with the challenges of playing away from their fans at a single-site location at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., the Warriors gave fans back home plenty to cheer about as they delivered a 11-4 regular season record, which earned them the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Golden State Warriors assignment player Jordan Poole finished second in the G League in scoring averaging 22.4 points per game before being recalled to Golden State. NBA veteran Jeremy Lin was crucial to the team’s success with 19.8 points per game and 6.4 assist per game, helping Santa Cruz advance to the semifinals where they were defeated by the eventual NBA G League Champion Lakeland Magic, 108-96.
Besides seven games being televised across ESPN2, ESPNU and NBA TV during this unprecedented G League season, Santa Cruz further enabled fans to follow the Warriors’ action by teaming up with NBC Sports Bay Area to have 13 games shown throughout the region.
To demonstrate their commitment to their community this year, the Warriors created the Swishes for Dishes program, a new initiative benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank, which resulted in a total of 50,280 meals being distributed families in need throughout the Santa Cruz community. The program received 488,000 social media impressions across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and was recently recognized with one of the league’s Social Responsibility Awards earlier this month.
In addition to Swishes for Dishes, the Warriors participated in Random Acts of Kindness presented by Kaiser Permanente Thrive and converted Kaiser Permanente Arena into a COVID-19 vaccination center at the height of the pandemic and an election polling site for the 2020 elections.
Previous recipients of the Franchise of the Year Award include the Raptors 905 (2020), Texas Legends (2019) and the Santa Cruz Warriors (2018).
NBA G League Team Executive of The Year: Matt Bresee, President, Erie BayHawks
Selected by the league’s team presidents, Erie BayHawks President Matt Bresee was presented with the Team Executive of the Year Award. A native of Erie, Pa., Bresee has served on the BayHawks staff for 13 seasons, becoming president of the team in 2009 during Erie’s second year in the league.
This season marked the final year in the G League for the BayHawks after a successful 13-year run and affiliations with several NBA franchises including the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and most recently, the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans are moving their G League affiliate to Birmingham, Ala. starting with the 2021-22 G League season.
Under Bresee’s direction, the BayHawks went 11-4 during 2021 action and reached the playoffs as the No. 3 seed. Erie finished in the top-five in both points per game (112.7) and opponent’s points allowed per game (106.9), proving them to be one of the league’s most balanced attacks. Jordan Bell, 2018 NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors, led the BayHawks in scoring (17.6), rebounding (9.3), steals (1.3) and blocks (2.0) in his seven games of action.
Bresee was also recognized for forging strong business partnerships throughout the region, including LECOM, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, PNC Bank, Penn State Behrend and Marquette Savings Bank, which were also instrumental in recognizing and supporting front line workers and teachers during the pandemic. The BayHawks also worked with Second Harvest Food Bank to support families in need.
Previous recipients of the Executive of the Year Award include Dajuan Eubanks (Maine Red Claws, 2020), Malcolm Farmer (Texas Legends, 2019), Steve Brandes (Wisconsin Herd, 2018), Chris Murphy (Santa Cruz Warriors, 2017), Mike Levy (Canton Charge, 2016), Tim Salier (Austin Spurs, 2015), Jeff Potter (Fort Wayne Mad Ants, 2014), Bill Boyce (Texas Legends, 2013), David Higdon (Bakersfield Jam, 2012), Bert Garcia (Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 2011) and Jon Jennings (Maine Red Claws, 2010).
NBA G League Social Responsibility and Marketing and Digital Awards
The G League also recognized its teams for the tremendous impact that they are making on their communities. The league presented awards for Social Responsibility to the Long Island Nets for Team Up for Unity, the Delaware Blue Coats for Books and Basketball, and the Santa Cruz Warriors for Swishes for Dishes. For Youth Basketball programs, the G League honored the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for their Virtual Basketball Camp.
In addition, to highlight the creative and innovative marketing and digital work of G League teams this year, the league honored Marketing & Digital MVPs across specific marketing and digital categories from the Austin Spurs, Cleveland Charge, Lakeland Magic, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Santa Cruz Warriors and Westchester Knicks.