Spurs rejoices after eliminating the Heat in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals (Photo: instagram.com/nba)
The San Antonio Spurs were supposed to be on a decline with its aging core of superstars on their last legs. But after a heartbreak loss in last year’s finals, they strove harder, they played better, and they came out stronger as they trounced the Miami Heat to win the 2014 NBA championship.
“It is satisfying because the work that we put in the whole year to get back to the finals and have this opportunity, and it worked,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “We feel gratified by that and humbled to have that opportunity.
“It somewhat (is) still disbelief, but because they are such a great team makes it really worth it to us,” Popovich added, referring to the deposed Miami Heat. “It is just great satisfaction to be able to come out on top against such a great organization.”
Trailing by as many as 16 early in the final game of the season, San Antonio recovered and led by seven going into halftime. From there, the eventual champs never looked back as they won, 104-87.
“They dominated us. They took two games in our homecourt by 20 points apiece. They beat us by 20 tonight,” Chris Bosh remarked. “You have to tip your hats off to those guys; they played the best basketball I have ever seen.”
LeBron James echoed on that sentiment, “They are a high-oiled machine and they move the ball extremely well. It is all for the team and it is never about the individual. I saw team basketball as how it should be played. It is selfless.”
This unselfishness was exemplified by Kawhi Leonard garnering the Bill Russell trophy for being the best player of the postseason, the first time in his professional career where he scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games. His pull-up three-pointer in the second quarter of Game 5 gave the Spurs the lead for the first time, 37-35, which proved to be the turning point of the contest.
“I just talked to him about not being in that defer sort of stage,” Popovich related on what he told Leonard. “’The hell with Tony, the hell with Tim, the hell with Manu, you play the game. You are the man. You are part of the engine that makes us go.’”
“Tim, Tony, Manu, and the rest of the guys believed in me. I just took that to hand and started working hard,” Leonard recalled his first year with the squad. “When I came in, they were talking about championship, which is a surprise for me being a rookie, so I really had to step it up.”
“Every time you see your superstar, the franchise, being so unselfish, it makes you want to be like that too. Timmy is a great example for me,” Tony Parker shared. “He is a model for me to follow and he has been so good for so long. The key to success is we never let our ego, me or Timmy or Manu, be ahead of the team.”
Manu Ginobili summed it up well, “It was not about Tim Duncan or Tony Parker. It was not about Kawhi, it was not Danny Green or Boris Diaw. This is a team, and that is what it makes so nice.”
Once again, congratulations San Antonio Spurs!
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