It has been done. The San Antonio Spurs, led by Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, have beaten the Miami Heat in five games to win the NBA title. The 22-year old is the youngest to win the MVP award since some guy named Tim Duncan did it back in 1999.
In a rematch of the 2013 NBA Finals, this time it was the Spurs coming out on top. But, they weren’t led by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, nor Manu Ginobli, but rather Kawhi Lenoard. In a game where superstars matter, the Spurs showed that a team-first mindset can still help you win it all, even against the likes of the superstar-ridden Miami Heat.
Even the word defeat it somewhat of an understatement, considering that by the end of things the San Antonio Spurs had a +70 point-differential, the largest in Finals history. And they did it against a quality opponent too.
It was more so a methodical dismantling by a Spurs squad that was more akin to a well-oiled machine. Not only that, it was a machine that has interchangeable parts yet is still anchored by a few old, yet crafty veteran pieces that that know how to win.
Their leader Greg Popovic, a man of so few words he could qualify as a monk, has now won his fifth NBA title, becoming just the fifth coach to ever do it. In doing so he joins the likes of Phil Jackson, Red Auerbeck, Pat Riley, and John Kundla as the only coaches to reach that mark.
Tim Duncan, otherwise known as the “Big Fundamental”, joins Popovic in winning his fifth NBA title and adds another milestone to his legacy. Not surprisingly when he picked up the finals MVP in 1999 the Spurs had another big man named David Robinson who was supplanting himself as a great NBA player. Now it seems things have come full-circle and Kawhi Leonard is to him what Duncan was to Robinson years ago.
Also, this convincing finals win begs the question of whether or not the Western Conference is that much better than its eastern conterpart. Not only did the Spurs have to fend off LeBron James and the Heat in the finals, they dealt with Kevin Durant’s (or perhaps Russell Westbrook’s) Thunder, Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks, and a great, young Portland squad that should once again be a threat in the west come next season.
Meanwhile, the aging Heat swept a Charlotte team that was just four games over .500, a Brooklyn team that is as old as them led by a rookie head coach, and an Indiana Pacers team that was nowhere near the level they were at a year ago. It seems like a no-brainer.
Congratulations to the 2014 San Antonio Spurs, a team whose top three players hail from three different countries in France, the U.S., and Argentina. All three are most-likely heading to the Hall of Fame, as is their coach Greg Popovic, where together they have created a dynasty-like team. But, it is difficult to call them that because their wins have come too far apart to be considered completely dominant.
Still, they were clearly the best team this year by the end of the NBA Finals and are the deserved champs.