The San Antonio Spurs captured their fifth championship dominating the Miami Heat and winning in five games, displaying how perfect basketball should be played.
Every member of the Spurs organization had a winning mindset from day one. After nearly winning it all in last year’s finals, a rematch this year was almost ideal for the San Antonio team. With less than a minute in Game 6 of the 2012-2013 NBA Finals, the Larry O’Brien trophy was already in sight for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and the rest of the Spurs. History had other plans. Ray Allen hit an improbable, a clutch three to lead a run in which Miami would escape with the Game 6 victory to force a Game 7 and eventually win it all back in Miami. After being so close, the Spurs vowed revenge.
The Spurs epitomized the definition of hard work and team basketball. They grinded out a league best 62 wins during the regular season. Their road to the finals was everything but easy. Every single night they were tested. Almost being knocked out in the first round to the Dallas Mavericks, they were pushed to seven games. They dominated Damian Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers, winning in five games with each win coming by double digits. League MVP Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and a injured Serge Ibaka battled the Spurs back and forth but it wasn’t enough to stop San Antonio from capturing the Western Conference title in 6 games.
Then they found themselves with a rematch of last year’s finals against the back-to-back champions, Miami Heat. The story was a little different this time with the Spurs having home court advantage, the roles of key bench players such as Boris Diaw and Patty Mills, the NBA changing the format of home games to 2-2-1-1-1, the rise of star forward Kawhi Leonard and the will and determination to dethrone LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
The Spurs are the eptiome of teamwork, showcasing team defense, ball movement, will and trust trumping the star system. James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh had no answers to the Spurs’ stifling defense. The Spurs beat the Heat on what Miami does best, aggressiveness. Every night, Miami was physically outmatched, being beat to ball possession after possession. The Spurs won their four games by 15 or more points.
After losing Game 2 at home, the Spurs never looked back. They embarrassed the Heat on their home court in Games 3 and 4 and took it back to San Antonio for Game 5 last Sunday to raise the trophy in front of their home fans. The selflessness displayed by this Spurs team is one for the ages. The leadership and defense first mentality of coach Gregg Popovich won them their fifth ring.
Leonard, who became the youngest Finals MVP ever, was never the first, second or even third option on offense. He instead found himself in perfect position every time, shining in Popovich’s system along with playing some of the best defense LeBron James has ever faced.
This Spurs team is not the “best team of all time,” but they have put themselves into the next tier of all-time great teams having captured five NBA championships in the last 15 years. They have cemented themselves into basketball history books, and their story is still being written.