Spurs win fifth NBA title
SAN ANTONIO - From their low moment in the NBA Finals, back to the top of the league.
The San Antonio Spurs turned the rematch with the Miami Heat into no match at all.
The Spurs finished off a dominant run to their fifth NBA championship last night, ending the Heat's 2-year title reign with a 104-87 victory that wrapped up the series in five games.
A year after their heartbreaking, seven-game defeat, their only loss in six Finals appearances, the Spurs won four routs to deny Miami's quest for a third straight championship.
Kawhi Leonard, named the Finals MVP, had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs. San Antonio added this title to the ones the Spurs won in 1999, 2003, '05 and '07. They nearly had another last year, but couldn't hold off the Heat and lost in seven games.
San Antonio rebounded from an early 16-point deficit by outscoring the Heat, 37-13, from the start of the second quarter to midway in the third.
The celebration the Heat canceled last season was on by the early second half yesterday, when the Spurs had finished digging their way out of that 16-point hole and opened a huge lead.
LeBron James had 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who lost their spot atop the NBA to the team that had it so long.
The Spurs won four titles in 9 years, but hadn't been back on top since 2007, making Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time" an appropriate song choice after the final buzzer.
Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich have been here for all of them, and it was the fourth for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who with Duncan are once again the reigning Big Three in the NBA.
Meanwhile, if Duncan goes out now, he'll be going out as a champion - for the fifth time. Throughout this series, speculation has been rampant that if the Spurs ended Miami's reign Duncan might finally feel like the time is right to end what will surely be a Hall of Fame career.
"Amazing," Duncan said. "It makes last year OK."
His first title was in 1999. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a longer span between championships.
"It's a very emotional time," Duncan said.
When the 2011-12 season was threatened by a lockout, it was speculated that Duncan might have already played his last game. He certainly doesn't play for money anymore - he's making about $10 million this season, a giant sum in the real world but well below market value by NBA standards - and has always seemed to be a reluctant superstar.
And then, every fall, Duncan shows up for training camp, the Spurs win a bunch of games, and the legacy just keeps growing.
"I know he's got one more year on his contract, and he loves being with us, loves playing basketball," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "Either way, whatever he decides, I'll support him. But if I have to choose, obviously, I would love him to keep going. I love playing with him."