Calling the retirement of Peter Holt as Spurs CEO and the naming of his wife, Julianna Hawn Holt, as his replacement “a win-win for everybody,” Spurs coach and president of basketball Gregg Popovich on Thursday said the change in leadership won’t affect how the organization operates in any way.

The Spurs on Wednesday announced Holt’s retirement as CEO of Spurs Sports and Entertainment. The 67-year-old will remain on the organization’s board of managers and Spurs president of business operations Rick Psych will share CEO duties with Julianna Hawn Holt, who will also assume Peter Holt’s role on the NBA’s Board of Governors.

Peter Holt was part of the Spurs ownership group when Popovich was hired as general manager in 1994 and it was under Holt’s watch as CEO that Popovich fired head coach Bob Hill and assumed head coach duties himself, a move that has produced a run of success unparalleled in pro sports over the last two decades.

Popovich understands that leadership starts at the top in any organization and always has credited Holt’s willingness to support every decision the basketball operations department deemed best for the Spurs, no matter the financial considerations.

“As most everybody knows by now, over the last couple of decades Peter’s been unbelievable in setting a vision for all of us; providing great leadership; and allowing us to do our jobs,” Popovich said. “He’s been a really unique owner in that respect and it’s been appreciated for this whole time.

“He chose at this time to go ahead and retire, as we all do at some point. Fortunately for us, with the Holts it’s been a family thing. Their whole family has loved us and Julianna has been involved with the Spurs for the last couple of decades. She’s just a behind-the-scenes person. She doesn’t go out and get in front of cameras. It’s not her style.  But she’s known everything that’s been going on so it’s a natural transition for her to do what she’s doing now and we’re excited that everything will stay the same, and we’ll all just continue what we’re doing because we’ve all been doing it for a long time.

“It’s a good thing for everybody; a win-win for everybody,” he said.

Both Popovich and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford have cited Peter Holt’s selfless leadership during his 20 years as the team’s CEO, during which the Spurs have the best record among all North American professional sports leagues and have won five NBA titles. Peter Holt first joined the team’s ownership group in 1993 and was named CEO after becoming the team’s largest stakeholder in 1996.

Peter Holt at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs.
Peter Holt cheers on the Spurs at the AT&T Center. Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs.

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved over the last two decades,” Holt said in the press release issued by the team. “The championships are wonderful, bringing new sports franchises to San Antonio is important but the biggest accomplishment for me will always be the impact we’ve had in our community. The pride, support and love that our city has for the Spurs is truly amazing.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement thanking Peter Holt for his service to the NBA, WNBA, NBA Development League and the NBA’s Board of Governors, which he served as Chairman.

“For 20 years the Spurs have been a model franchise under Peter Holt, winning five NBA championships and becoming an anchor of the San Antonio community along with building a global following,” Silver said. “We thank him for his outstanding service and look forward to working with Julianna Hawn Holt in her new role as the team’s Governor.”

Top Image: Grand Marshall Peter Holt yells “Go Spurs Go” while his wife Julianna drives the carriage during the 2015 Battle of Flowers Parade in downtown San Antonio.  Photo by Scott Ball.  

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Mike Monroe is a longtime, award-winning sports journalist who has covered the NBA for the San Antonio Express-News and other publications.