“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius.
Twelve months on from their heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs have risen to the top of the NBA ladder.
A 104-87 victory in Texas on Sunday night gave Gregg Popovich’s side their fifth NBA Championship.
It was a mesmerising performance from the Spurs, as they overturned a 22-6 Miami lead in the first quarter, seventeen of which were scored by LeBron James, to finally put the ghosts of 2013 to bed. Kawhi Leonard (22 & 10)excelled on a night where he wrote his name into NBA folklore, becoming the youngest player to win the Finals MVP since teammate Tim Duncan did it in 1999.
Any hopes of a Heat comeback were extinguished once San Antonio found their feet and they went on to rout Erik Spoelstra’s side for the third game in a row. One has to feel sorry for LeBron James. His record against the Spurs in NBA Finals sits at 5-11, and his tally of 31 points and 10 rebounds was not enough to secure his third ring.
The Spurs were incredible on offense, outscoring playoff opponents by a record 214 points this year. The Miami bench combined for just 24 points, while the Spurs reserves, with Patty Mills (17 points ) and Manu Ginobili (19 pts) leading the way, totalled an impressive 47 points. Nearly double the output of their opponents.
It was an emotional night for the Spurs franchise, with Gregg Popovich telling his side it was the proudest victory of his career.
The 2013/14 season will be remembered for many things; the Spurs’ dominance, LeBron James reaching new heights but his teammates ultimately falling short, Tim Duncan maturing like a fine wine. Above all, it will be remembered as the season when Kawhi Leonard emerged as a true superstar.
Richard Barrett, Pundit Arena.