Skip to Main Content

NBA G League Announces 2023-24 Team Business Awards

– Santa Cruz Warriors Named Franchise of the Year –

Official Release /May 23, 2024

NEW YORK, May 23, 2024 – The NBA G League announced today that the Santa Cruz Warriors have been selected as the Franchise of the Year for the 2023-24 NBA G League season.  In addition, Grand Rapids Gold President Steve Jbara has received the Team Executive of the Year Award, and the Gold has won the President’s Choice Award.  NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim presented the awards during the league’s annual Sales & Marketing Meetings.

A selection committee composed of league executives determined the winner of the Franchise of the Year Award, evaluating all 30 teams on the league’s core pillars: Compete with Intensity, Lead with Integrity and Inspire Play.  The Team Executive of the Year Award was selected by a vote of the league’s team presidents.

The Gold becomes the third NBA G League team to earn the President’s Choice Award, which is chosen by Abdur-Rahim.  Established prior to the 2021-22 NBA G League season, the honor recognizes the team that embodies and demonstrates excellence in business performance across key areas of focus. 

In addition to those honors, the Maine Celtics earned the Social Responsibility and Promotion of the Year awards.  The Celtics and Wisconsin Herd each won the Content Series Award.  The Austin Spurs were honored with the Retailer of the Year and Marketing awardsThe Mexico City Capitanes received the Partnership of the Year and Most Engaging Content awards.  The Iowa Wolves earned the Youth Basketball Award.

See below for the full list of 2023-24 Team Business Awards honorees:

NBA G League Franchise of the Year: Santa Cruz Warriors

The Santa Cruz Warriors have been recognized as the 2023-24 NBA G League Franchise of the Year, the league announced today. This marks the fourth time the Santa Cruz Warriors have won the league’s most prestigious award, including the inaugural year of the award during the 2017-18 season. Additionally, this year’s award secures the team’s third recognition in the last four years (2020-21, 2021-22, 2023-24).

“The Warriors are honored to accept the Franchise of the Year recognition for the fourth time,” said Santa Cruz Warriors President Chris Murphy. “This award is a celebration of our collective effort, dedication and synergy as a team, and we are honored to share this recognition with the entire Santa Cruz community.”

The Santa Cruz Warriors finished first in the league in both ticket sales and partnership revenue, additionally setting a new league record for partnership revenue. On the social media side, the team boasts over 400,130 followers across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok and YouTube. The Warriors closed out the 2023-24 regular season with an 18-game sellout streak.

In the community, Santa Cruz players, coaches and front office team members logged over 1,200 volunteer hours this season. The Warriors raised over $94,300 for local nonprofits through in-kind donations, philanthropic events, Charitable Jersey Nights, and in-game fundraising initiatives. Through the Swishes for Dishes program, the Sea Dubs teamed up with Kaiser Permanente and The Athletes’ Corner to donate 60,830 meals to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County.  

On the court, the Santa Cruz Warriors compiled an overall record of 31-19 (11-5 in Showcase Cup, 20-14 in regular season), which was the third best record across the NBA G League. The Sea Dubs qualified for the NBA G League playoffs for the eighth time in the team’s 12-year existence, eventually falling to the Stockton Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Warriors had three players signed to NBA contracts (Pat Spencer, GSW; Gui Santos, GSW; and Javonte Green, CHI). Additionally, Santa Cruz had two players converted from two-way contracts to standard NBA contracts with the Golden State Warriors (Lester Quinones and Usman Garuba).

Previous recipients of the Franchise of the Year Award include the Wisconsin Herd (2023), Raptors 905 (2020) and the Texas Legends (2019).

View post on Twitter

NBA G League Team Executive of the Year: Steve Jbara, President, Grand Rapids Gold

Selected by his peers, Grand Rapids Gold President Steve Jbara was presented with the Team Executive of the Year award. Jbara is the founder and president of the Grand Rapids Gold, the Denver Nuggets' affiliate in the G League, which he founded in 2014 as a Detroit Pistons affiliate known as the Drive before rebranding in 2021 as the Gold after the Nuggets entered into a hybrid agreement with the team. He also played a large role in the franchise winning this year’s President’s Choice Award.

View post on Twitter

NBA G League President’s Choice Award: Grand Rapids Gold

The Grand Rapids Gold is the third recipient of the President’s Choice Award. Previous recipients of the award include the Iowa Wolves (2023) and Wisconsin Herd (2022).

View post on Twitter

NBA G League Retailer of the Year: Austin Spurs

The Austin Spurs are the recipients of the Retailer of the Year award, which recognizes a commitment to growing retail sales, integrating products cross-functionally, and expanding retail touchpoints. During the 2023-24 season, Austin introduced custom city branded apparel items that helped generate 168 percent more sales outside of the primary venue and saw a 77 percent increase in performance over last year’s tour with the inclusion of two more games. As a whole, the team improved overall sales by 22 percent year-over-year in a strong cross-collaborative effort with their “home away from home” games gaining media traction with good product exposure. Previous winners of the award include the Cleveland Charge (formerly Canton Charge), Windy City Bulls, and Mexico City Capitanes.

View post on Twitter

NBA G League Social Responsibility Award: Maine Celtics' Lewiston Strong

Tragedy struck Lewiston, Maine on Oct. 25, 2023 when 18 people were killed and 13 others injured as a result of a senseless shooting spree. The Maine Celtics quickly took action to support and unite the Lewiston community just two days after the shooting by coordinating with the Boston Celtics. Players wore Maine Celtics shooting shirts during their home opener, while the team featured “Lewiston Strong” signage in arena​ and a blue “Lewiston” stripe on both home and away uniforms for the entire season.

View post on Twitter

Maine also hosted a “Lewiston Strong” Night with special uniforms, merch, and artwork on Dec. 16, 2023, wearing special Lewiston uniforms with colors and designs to replicate Lewiston High School. "Lewiston Strong" rally towels were handed out to all in attendance and all staff, including coaches, wore blue "Lewiston Strong" shirts for the evening. The team commissioned local artist Eamon White to create Lewiston-inspired artwork, which hung in the Portland Expo for the duration of the season. Survivors and their families were recognized on-court as Honorary Captains, and fans were encouraged to purchase tickets using a special link with $10 of each ticket's proceeds going directly to the Lewiston-Auburn Metro Chamber Foundation.

JD Davison of the Maine Celtics wears the Lewiston High School-inspired blue jerseys from "Lewiston Strong" Night on Dec. 16.

NBA G League Promotion of the Year: Maine Celtics' "Amazing Maine"

The Maine Celtics also were awarded with the Promotion of the Year for their "Amazing Maine" series in partnership with L.L. Bean. The cornerstone of Amazing Maine was the L.L. Bean "Maine Hunting Plaid" uniforms, which were worn throughout the season. L.L. Bean allowed the use of their typeface for the "Maine" on the jerseys. In-game activations included L.L. Bean and region-specific giveaway items, fun facts and trivia about the regions, an L.L. Bean-themed "Dress and Dash" timeout game, and prizes for fans who wore L.L. Bean apparel to the game. The promotion was included and recognized on the NBC Sports Boston broadcasts.

On. Jan. 27, 2024, the fourth installment of Amazing Maine, the highlighted region was Northern Maine. The Maine Potatoes Association was the Game Night Sponsor and 50/50 raffle beneficiary. The game was sold out and 825 group tickets were sold from that region, which rarely attends Maine Celtics games because of its location. As a whole, the Amazing Maine series produced over $50,000 in sponsorship revenue and $232,526 in total ticket revenue and sold out four of the five Amazing Maine games. Amazing Maine content produced 2.24 million impressions and 126K engagements on Maine Celtics social media platforms.

View post on Twitter

NBA G League Marketing Award: Austin Spurs

The Austin Spurs' innovative approach to marketing, including media coverage and social media impressions, has had a strong impact on the growth of their fan base and overall excitement for the team, broadening the team’s impact and fan base beyond their local community in Austin. The team's games in Laredo and Corpus Christi both saw significant increases in revenue, as well as engagement with the local community through various activations and partnerships with the community - the YMCA for the jerseys further highlighted the team's commitment to community partnerships. What’s most impressive is that this was truly a team effort – everyone from the front office team, to coaches, players, partners, and so on got involved, which I believe really contributed to the initiative’s success.

View post on Twitter

NBA G League Youth Basketball Award: Iowa Wolves

The NBA G League announced today that the Iowa Wolves won the NBA G League Youth Basketball award for the 2023-24 season. The youth basketball award is for the Iowa Wolves High School Hoops series on Jan. 16 that featured Perry High School and Saydel High School in a boys and girls varsity basketball doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena.

For Perry, which were the home teams, the basketball games were the first return to competition for their sports teams after a tragic shooting at the high school on Jan. 4 that killed the school principal, Dan Murburger and middle school student, Ahmir Jolliff.

The Iowa Wolves organization after discussions with both schools, all agreed to continue with hosting the games as a way for the Perry community to help heal from the tragedy. In addition, the Wolves and Wells Fargo Arena announced the proceeds from the games would be donated to the Perry High School Booster Club.

The Wolves drew their largest crowd ever for a high school hoops series. Later at a Perry home game, Iowa Wolves president of business operations Drew Van Meeteren and director of ticket sales Alex Barker presented their booster club with a check for $17,305. The donation along with several others from other local high school booster clubs will allow the Perry booster club to complete future projects and needs.

The Iowa Wolves High School Hoops Series gives boys and girls high school basketball teams from across the state of Iowa the opportunity to play on the Wells Fargo Arena court. Games are hosted on off days for the Iowa Wolves or early afternoon on Wolves’ home gamedays. The series started in 2015 and allows high school basketball teams, that may not qualify for the state tournaments held at Wells Fargo Arena every March, the opportunity to play a regular season game at the downtown arena. A school elects to be the host school and agrees to move a home game to Wells Fargo Arena and is the designated home team.

NBA G League Partnership of the Year: Mexico City Capitanes

In Sept. 2023, the Mexico City Capitanes partnered with ADO, one of the largest bus companies in Mexico. The partnership generated ticketing opportunities for the team through the promotion of the "Tour Capitanes" with the City Tour company owned by ADO, Turibus. The partnership also helped ADO continue to enhance their marketing and promotional offerings within the sports industry in Mexico, introducing the full customization of the CAPITANES bus, with seats specially adapted for the players providing over 1.5 meters of space between seats for their comfort.

The activation of the partnership required collaborative efforts from all members of the Capitanes, involving the work of all front office departments and basketball operations. As part of the surprises at the inaugural event for the partnership, the team unveiled the CAPITANES bus to attendees utilizing players, media, influencers, and partners. As the season progressed, ADO had an in-game presence on the sidelines, LED displays, and multiple activations during each game - including a replica bus giveaway. Together with ADO's City Tour company, the team also launched Tour Capitanes, an unforgettable experience immersing yourself in the intensity of a thrilling G League Regular Season game which included a city tour, Juanjolote meet and greet, VIP seats, and more. On Feb. 5th, the team celebrated ADO Day, during which they gave away over 2,000 tickets to ADO employees, providing them with a unique experience at the game.

The Capitanes and ADO also collaborated on many community impact events, headlined by a food and supplies collection during games following Hurricane OTIS hitting Acapulco in Oct. 2023. The team gathered items and sent them to Acapulco on the CAPITANES bus, providing significant support to over 650 families. Fans who donated bottled water, canned food, blankets, hygiene products, clothing, tools, or other helpful materials received a coupon to attend the game on Dec. 5th, resulting in over 200 tickets given away because of all the donations received.

NBA G League Content Series Award: Maine Celtics and Wisconsin Herd

The Maine Celtics and Wisconsin Herd were named dual winners of the Content Series award.

Maine was recognized in the longform content category for its YouTube series, The Maine Celtics Podcast, which was produced throughout the season to cover the progress and successes of the team. Eight total episodes were released and several members of the organization were interviewed throughout key touchpoints in the season. The series created a longform, high-quality video podcast that dives deeper and is more informative than other content series, going over 30 minutes. Not only did the Podcast achieve the high quality, deeper storytelling that Maine wished for, it also became a focal point of the broadcast, becoming a pre-game sports talk show that led into home game broadcasts. The podcast also was a staple on the new G League TV channel on Tubi, which had over 3.5 Million unique devices tune into the channel this past season.

Wisconsin was recognized in the shortform content category for its "Mic'd Up Player Connectivity" series. The Herd focused on engaging all sports fans by creating a deeper connection to the players for the community and going beyond the traditional basketball narrative by highlighting player personalities and humanizing the players above and beyond basketball. All Herd content was shot at practices and Media Day. The created shortform vertical content saw massive results for the Herd, which led NBA G League teams in total views on TikTok and YouTube and saw its TikTok followers increase by over 1,000% since the previous season. One particular video, in which players attempted to size up a basketball with their hands, reached over 5.4 million video views on TikTok to become the most viewed piece of content in Wisconsin Herd history, while other content pieces were shared across platforms like Dunk and the NBA G League App.

View post on Twitter

NBA G League Most Engaging Content: Mexico City Capitanes

The Mexico City Capitanes were awarded the Most Engaging Content award for their 360 degrees videos. Using drone footage, the Capitanes shot 360 videos of the warm-ups against the Grand Rapids Gold on Jan. 10 at Arena CDMX, featuring players like Justin Wright-Foreman, Alexey Borges, Ethan Thompson and Malique Lewis. They also shot the pre-game huddle and the final huddle in the center of the court after the win. Total impact resulted in 91K+ video views on the evening.

View post on Twitter

About the NBA G League

The NBA’s official minor league, the NBA G League prepares players, coaches, officials, training and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory.  Featuring 30 teams with direct affiliations to NBA franchises and Mexico City’s Capitanes for 2024-25, the league offers elite professional basketball at an affordable price in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.  50 percent of all players on start-of-season 2023-24 NBA rosters boasted NBA G League experience.  In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA Cares programs.