Spurs Dunk Heat, Win 5th NBA Championship
The San Antonio Spurs experienced the worst feeling of their basketball careers a year ago. Collectively, the model NBA franchise described the sting of losing the 2013 NBA finals as the most difficult moment as a basketball franchise. Rather than let the sting bring them down, the Spurs vowed to get back to the Finals and finish the job. Sunday night in San Antonio, they did just that.
"We remember what happened last year and how it felt in that locker room and we used it and built on it and got back here and it's amazing," said 38 year old Tim Duncan (pictured). "It makes last year OK."
The Spurs handled the Heat in Game 5, winning 104-87, and winning the series 4-1.
Duncan scored 14 points Sunday night, capturing the 5th NBA Championship of his illustrious career. He and coach Gregg Popovich have been together for all 5 Spurs titles (99, 03, 05, 07, 14), while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been a part of the last 4.
"Hard to believe, isn't it?" said a smiling Ginobili in postgame. "We played at a really high level."
Ginobili added 19 off the bench, while Parker scored 16. However, the biggest star of the series was a young member of the Spurs who captured the first championship of his career.
Small forward Kawhi Leonard registered a team-high 22 points and 10 rebounds Sunday night, finishing off a 3 game stretch in which he scored 71 points while also guarding league MVP LeBron James.
"This feeling is so surreal," said Leonard as he was awarded the NBA Finals MVP trophy. At 23 years old, he's the youngest Finals MVP since Duncan in 1999.
James led the Heat in scoring with 31 and pulled down 10 boards, but didn't get much help from his teammates. Despite being the best player on the court, he couldn't make a significant impact against the new champs.
"It's hard to say anything," said James after the loss. "Everyone is going through their own emotions right now. Everyone deals with it a little differently. For me, I keep my head high...I'm going to stay positive and use this as another opportunity to get better next year."
San Antonio used last year's experience to get better. It led them to a 5th title and one of the most impressive NBA Finals performances in league history.