The San Antonio Spurs have long been looked at as one of the best franchises in not only the NBA, but in all of sports. As successful as they’ve been, the Spurs hadn’t won an NBA Title in seven years. All that changed Sunday night, as NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard and his Spurs’ teammates completed their annihilation of the 2-time defending world champion, Miami Heat in 5 games.
The Spurs win over the Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals marked their first championship during an even-numbered year. Their previous titles were won in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007. It looked like that trend was going to continue last year, but the Spurs were unable to finish the Heat. Tim Duncan and company truly believed Lebron James and the Heat were just holding what was supposed to be their trophy for winning the 2013 NBA Title.
That was motivation enough. The Spurs would not be denied this season. It turned out to be sweet redemption, sweet revenge for the Spurs and their fans. They earned it….
Merely, stating that these Spurs earned it doesn’t do them justice. It was the way they earned it. Everyone else in the NBA and for that matter, all of sports should take notes. If you follow me on G+, Twitter, or even Facebook, you know I’m a die-hard Houston Rockets fan, so this is a bitter-sweet moment for me. But, I have to tell it like it is. The professionalism, and unselfishness of not only the players, but the entire franchise should be applauded. In today’s world of ‘Me’ above ‘Team’, and stockpiling as many superstars as possible, it’s truly refreshing to see a team win a title the complete opposite way. However, with the Spurs residing in the same division with my beloved Houston Rockets, I realize it’s probably going to be that much tougher for the Rockets to ever have a chance to win a title.
The Spurs have never been about stockpiling superstars. The Spurs have always been about acquiring players that fit their ‘system’. Danny Green, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter, and players like them aren’t superstars, but together they’re a force. Especially, with them being so unselfish on the court. The manner in which they play is the way the game was meant to be played, but they’re unselfishness is evident not only on the court, but also off of it. The so called superstars of the team like Tim Duncan, restructured their contracts to make less money, in order for the Spurs front office to bring in better talent.
Obviously, it worked. As much as, we can point to the mediocre play of a player like Dwyane Wade as a reason for the Heat’s loss, it was crystal clear the biggest difference in this series was the play of each team’s bench. The Spurs bench outscored the Heat’s bench 188-109 in the series. I actually can’t believe it was that close. Those numbers would not have been possible, had the Spurs primary players not taken pay cuts. I don’t blame any player for getting paid as much money, as they possibly can in their career, but again, it’s refreshing to see players sacrifice money for sake of winning a title.
Speaking of players that ‘fit’, the Spurs addition of Kawhi Leonard is a perfect example of how they work. Trading current Pacers point guard, George Hill didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but now it seem gigantic. The Pacers have questions if Hill can be their long-term solution at point, but Kawhi Leonard looks like a perennial all-star in the making in San Antonio. He ‘fit’ exactly what the Spurs needed. His youth, athleticism and defensive ability was huge in the Spurs finishing this series, and having a shot of finishing last year’s Finals. Being named Finals MVP at the age of 22 is amazing, but may only be the tip of the iceberg with how good he’s going to be.
Another element that the Spurs have is continuity. Manu Ginobili, now has 4 titles. So does Tony Parker. Head coach, Greg Popovich, and Tim Duncan now have been a part of 5 titles that range 15 years. That’s incredible stuff, and virtually unheard of in this day and time. It’s refreshing that Duncan and company have played their entire careers in San Antonio. Who can blame them for wanting to continue playing under such a great coach. Popovich, his coaching staff, and the Spurs front office have been champions off the court, just as much as the players are now, on the court. With their professionalism, unselfishness, and continuity, there’s no end in sight for the new champions of the basketball world…….