SAN ANTONIO -- Charles Amato and Gary Dudley, the two co-owners of Southwest Business Corporation, a financial services firm with many credit union clients, will add two more NBA championship rings to their collection in January 2008 when the fruits of this year's San Antonio Spurs victory are handed out.
The pair, through SWBC, have been part owners of the San Antonio Spurs since 1993, when the two responded to an effort to organize local corporations to buy the team.
"The team was facing the prospect of being sold and moved and there were enough of us who considered that a bad development that we were able to organize, come to terms and make the purchase," explained Amato.
About 20 firms and individuals in the San Antonio area own parts of the team, with the largest shareholder owning 31%. The investors agreed not to specify how much of the team any one of them held.
Amato said he had been part of the June 17 celebration of the victory until early June 18.
"Four wins in nine years is certainly a monumental achievement and we are delighted to have been able to be a part of it," he said.
Amato added that he and Dudley had never doubted the team's ability to win, but acknowledged a certain degree of nerves about post-season play. "At this level what they say is really true. We could beat any other team in the running on any given day, but they could beat us, too," he said.
Although the point of buying the Spurs was not as much to make money as it was to keep the team in San Antonio, Amato acknowledged the firm has made a return on its initial investment. He also pointed out that SWBC has shared in the entire area's good fortune of being home to a champion team.
"I was in Europe about two weeks ago and where I was they had a Spurs game on television and in the streets people were selling merchandise with the Spurs logo. We couldn't buy that kind of visibility," Amato said.
But one particular pleasure will be the championship rings that Amato explained all of the team's investors receive with every championship victory. The rings are nearly identical to the players' rings and are every bit as large and encrusted with diamonds, Amato said.
"They are massive of course, and they have lots of bling and yes the bling is real," he said. Between he and Dudley, the firm now will account for eight of them when the rings from this year's victory are handed out, Amato explained.
He added that although the rings were not things either he or Dudley wore everyday, there were events, particularly team events or sporting related events where they would wear them. They wear them also to some civic events.
"San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the U.S. but we only have the one professional sports franchise in the Spurs. That makes the team an extremely important part of civic pride and celebration," Amato added.