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For Spurs players Finals win is cathartic… and the legacy is nice, too

Jun 16, 2014, 2:27 AM EDT

SAN ANTONIO — In as dominant as an NBA Finals performance as you will ever see, the San Antonio Spurs catapulted their legacy up with the all-time great franchises of an era — five titles over 15 years, an unparalleled length of greatness in the modern era.

After the game the Spurs players didn’t talk much about that.

What they talked about openly was how this was cathartic. How they needed this win to remove the sting of scars from the last three years and everything that was said about them.

There was 2011 when the Spurs were the No. 1 seed muscled out of the playoffs by the Grizzlies in the first round. Clearly these Spurs were too old.

There was 2012 and games 3-6 of the Western Conference Finals when the Thunder swept them out of the playoffs, when it looked like the younger generation had passed the Spurs by.

Then there was the most painful cut of all — 2013 Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Miami.

This championship exorcized all those demons.

“Last year was a tough one for all of us,” Manu Ginobili said. “We felt like we had the trophy, that we were touching it, and it slipped away. It was a tough summer. We all felt guilty. We all felt that we let teammates down. But we work hard. We thought every game in the regular season trying to get better to have the same opportunity again.

“We got to this spot, and we didn’t let it go.”

This was more than just revenge, more than just about the yellow rope coming out and Ray Allen hitting a three. For the Spurs this was years of working, evolving the roster and offense, the focus on process, of buying in, of playing basketball “the right way,” of preaching sacrifice and selflessness in a league where salaries can be determined by numbers.

It all paid off in the grandest of ways.

The San Antonio Spurs absolutely owned the two-time defending champion Heat through the final three games of this series. The better team was never in doubt.

Tim Duncan has become the first player to be a starter on a championship team in three different decades (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and now 2014). He went from being the 23-year-old Finals MVP to the 38-year-old who still averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds in the NBA Finals.

But legacy was not the motivation so much as erasing pain. Specifically the loss to the Heat last year. Every Spurs player mentioned it, as did coach Gregg Popovich.

“Last year’s loss was devastating. I’ve said many times, a day didn’t go by where I didn’t think about Game 6,” Popovich said. “So I think just in general, for the group to have the fortitude that they showed to get back to this spot, I think speaks volumes about how they’re constituted and what kind of fiber they have.”

“It’s been a long time, but it makes it even sweeter,” Tony Parker said. “That’s why I say it’s the sweetest one because it’s just unbelievable to win seven years ago and to be so close last year, it was very cruel, but that’s the beauty of sport. Sometimes it’s tough. And sometimes it can be beautiful like today, because it shows a lot of character of the team to take a loss and to come back the following year and to win the whole thing.”

Those scars may remain on the Spurs, but you won’t notice them as you are blinded by the five flashy, diamond-studded rings. Those five rings leave a legendary legacy for the Tim Duncan-era Spurs.

But that’s not what they were feeling Sunday night.

  1. kavika6 - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:32 AM


    • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:50 AM

      Let them win back-to-back first – see if they can manage to successfully defend a title – just once! – before calling them a dynasty.

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:33 AM

        So back to back>5 championships???? You Truely are an idiot!

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        The definition of a dynasty is holding on to rule for a succession of years. Not ruling sporadically over 15 years – always coming and going – one year in the Conference Finals, the next year out in the first round. Then several years without winning anything at all, not even their own conference.

        As your hero Phil Jackson said, “I wouldn’t call San Antonio a dynasty — a force, a great force. They haven’t been able to win consecutive championships but they’ve always been there.”

      • robigd - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:03 AM

        You still mad? I think we can all agree that it is time for you to crawl back into your hole. Just remember. SA is 28 seconds from being 6/6 in NBA Finals appearances. A team that obviously isn’t just satisfied being there.

        Timmy is 11-5 against LBJ in NBA Finals. Think about that today.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        I am not dissuaded by a mere finals loss. I understand the bigger picture. LeBron’s career isn’t anywhere near being finished so I have a lot to look forward to. On the other hand, Duncan and Pop are retiring soon. It was fun while it lasted.

        Timmy and Bron have met in the Finals 3 times. James = 1 Finals MVP. Duncan = 0 Finals MVP.

      • teabone413 - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:09 AM

        i hate to say it… but there’s a little bit of truth to what anti is saying.. there definitely is something special about back to backs. you cant be a dynasty with 1 back to back (therefore the heat are not a dynasty)… but to have 5 chips with no back to backs is not quite as good as having 5 with at least one back to back. yes, it’s kind of splitting hairs and 5 is 5.. but if you had to nitpick, a back to back is impressive. (lol, not miami’s though)

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        You can’t be a dynasty with 1 back to back!? Then how are the 80s Lakers considered an all-time great dynasty? They only had 1 back to back.

      • azarkhan - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        Anti, over the last few weeks you’ve written enough ignorant, petty and just plain stupid comments to last a decade. Goodbye fool.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Well this isn’t one of them.

      • justanacehole - Jun 17, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        The Heat are your typical Houston Rockets/Detroit Pistons variety dynasty.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        So the Rockets and Pistons also joined the Heat and the 60s Celtics as the only teams to go to 4 straight finals and win back-to-back in the process?

      • justanacehole - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Actually, Chris Bosh said the Heat aspire to be a dynasty like the Spurs. So, I guess he doesn’t agree either.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        I think he meant that he also wants to be in the Finals again with James and Wade when he’s well into his 30s.

        He probably will be.

      • justanacehole - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Look, you think the Heat are a dynasty and nothing anyone can tell you will change your mind. That’s fine, I feel differently.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        You are certainly not appreciating how difficult it is for a team to go to 4 straight Finals. How mentally challenging that is for a team. How it puts an inordinate strain on team chemistry. How it sucks all the energy out of a club. That’s why it’s so rare.

        And the Heat will probably go to 5 straight.

      • justanacehole - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM

        That may be true. I started following the NBA in 1989 and my hometown Bulls won a championship the following season. And then 5 more in the following 7 years, so that may taint my appreciation for the Heat’s mini-dynasty.
        However, I will say that the Bills went to 4 straight Super Bowls, which may be as difficult as what the Heat have accomplished, if not harder, and no one ever refers to them as dynastic.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:30 PM

        I guarantee you if the Bills won 2 of those 4 super bowls that they would certainly be called dynastic. Unfortunately they went 0-4.

        But even your Bulls didn’t go to 4 straight Finals – and they certainly tried. It’s difficult.

      • justanacehole - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        I think we all agree that 2/4 is pretty good, but you know how it is – if you ain’t first, you’re last.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        Well there hasn’t been a better team than the Heat over the last 4 years. They’re still on their run. A series loss isn’t going to stop that any more than losing to Orlando in 1995 stopped the Bulls.

      • justanacehole - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        Well, 2 teams were better than the Heat 2 of those years. Judging by the historic thrashing they took in the finals, they may have not even been the best team the Spurs played in the playoffs.
        Twice champions and twice the first loser is good, don’t get me wrong.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:44 PM

        2 different teams were better. No other team has been better overall over the last 4 years, obviously. They’re 1-1 against the Spurs. The Heat may have been beaten down, but the Spurs still suffered the most crushing loss.

      • justanacehole - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:44 AM

        Enjoy the pure awesomeness that is the San Antonio Spurs – according to your logic, they’ve been the best team in the NBA since 1998.
        I’m going to carry on with my life now.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Not with that many first round losses and no back-to-back rings. Can’t have a #1 seed losing in the first round. That’s a big no-no.

  2. antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    Well they got their revenge for last year. I’m happy for them. But now it’s time for San Antonio to get out of the way so we can get back to our regular scheduled programming, which is Miami’s historic run. So who will the Heat face in the Finals next year? Probably the Thunder, yeah?

    • tomshoe - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:35 AM

      You lost. Deal with it.

      Just be happy the Heat are a great team and you go this far. Quit hating lol

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 5:08 AM

        I’m not hating. 2013-14 is over. I’ve already moved on to 2014-15 which will start in about 4 months.

        The Heat will still be the top story.

      • balsagna - Jun 16, 2014 at 6:29 AM

        I see zero reason Lebron would return to that dumpster fire of a roster. What I think is going to happen is Lebron leaves and the arena is emptier than a Jerry Sandusky fan club meeting. Mainly because Heat fans are garbage.

    • tomshoe - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:35 AM

      You lost. Deal with it.

      Just be happy the Heat are a great team and you got this far. Quit hating lol

    • bhunter1995 - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:09 AM

      Its funny that you say all of this considering the fact that Melo might go to Chicago. Even if D Rose is 50% of what he used to be that team will be filthy with Melo on it. Noah, Gibson, Butler, Rose, and Melo can easily challenge the Heat with an aging Wade a worse version of Bosh and no bench depth, hell if the Pacers can just get consistent they will be able to challenge the Heat, so I’m not sold on MIA going to the finals again this upcoming season. Also there is no bragging allowed in this situation for you, sure the heat have made the finals four times in a row but who have they played to get there? The east is garbage if MIA was in the west this year, they probably would have lost in the second round.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        They are going to have to move Butler to get Melo. Enough of this Chicago nonsense already!

      • therealhtj - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        They’d probably end up losing Gibson too. You add a superstar to any contender and they pretty much have to gut their roster to make room. It could end up in a couple of rings – until guys start getting old while still commanding max money. Also, g’luck getting Melo to leave 50mil on the table to roll the dice on a team featuring Rose’s shaky knees, Noah, Him, and a bunch of minimum salaried scrubs.

        The Spurs situation is truly unique. Somehow Pop and Buford convince stars in their primes to take substantially less than max.

      • iknowzeroaboutsports - Jun 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        No one in Chicago wants Melo anywhere near the Bulls, except as an opponent.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Melo can go wherever he wants. He’s not a threat.

        And the Bulls were never a threat to the Heat even when they were at the top of their game.

        I think most people are sold on MIA going to the finals again next year.

      • bhunter1995 - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        @Therealht & Mr. Wright 212 – If they amnesty boozer they instantly open up over 17 million in cap space, all that needs to happen in order to get Melo on the Bulls is the amnestying of Boozer. They can keep both Gibson and Butler and acquire Melo.

    • unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:15 AM

      It’s highly unlikely the Heat make it back. LBJ- is he comes back- can only drag them so far. Anyway you slice it- this run for the Heat is over. Wade is broken down. Bosh is a jumbo sized 2 guard who refuses to go into the paint and wants to stand on the perimeter and throw up long range shots. The vaunted Heat defense is just not what it was. Wade and Haslem will both opt in- impairing the financial flexibility of the team to add fresh blood. Lewis, Battier, Allen likely all retired. Still a gaping hole at center. Heckuva run. I hate Miami and it’s horrible, delusional fans (ahem.). But gotta hand it to them- they had a good run. Thankfully it’s over now and you and your ilk can go back to your pizza delivery jobs.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        “Highly unlikely”? It’s only highly unlikely if LeBron leaves. If LeBron stays then it is highly likely.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      nahh…not so fast. let Spurs fans (and others) enjoy their success and others enjoy in the dispair that is the Heat failure. no rush. thats the thing about being a real fan, you stop, take a look around and enjoy the scenary. because you only follow a player…you dont get it. i understand. your comments reek of that approach.

      now go back to eating (that you set yourself up for) the biggest pile of crow anyone has ever had on PBT! hahahahaahahh!

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        Well so much for that. Here we are the very next day and nobody is talking about San Antonio. It’s all basically about LBJ. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        eh…LBJ is big news…no doubt. just like anything the Lakers do is big news. but to quickly dismiss what the Spurs did shows weakness.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        It’s just the way the world works. Win or lose, LeBron was going to be the news for today. That kind of makes him unbeatable, in a way.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        yeah…im a Laker fan. they have been “unbeatable” for 30 years…

        you’re weird. seriously.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        Maybe if the Lakers were in the finals. But they didn’t even make the playoffs. It’s kind of different.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 17, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        no. not really. this site usually has Laker articles on it all the time. you’re wrong, troll. try again.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Haven’t noticed.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 17, 2014 at 7:17 PM


    • thesixersbench - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      Bro…the Heat are toast unless Wade accepts less money. If they played in the Western Conference, how many finals do they make in these past 4 years?

      That’s their last title until Wade’s contract expires.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        If they played in the Western Conference I think they would also have two titles in the last 4 years.

      • thesixersbench - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        They may – it’s impossible to say.

        But, looking forward, they are not going to win anymore titles unless they make a significant shift of their roster build. This version of Wade is not good enough for the Heat to win if he’s their second best player.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        Well that depends on who they may face in the Finals. But not only is it prudent to make a significant roster change, but it’s also completely necessary just because so key guys are probably going to retire or leave, etc.

      • thesixersbench - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:12 PM

        I agree with you.

        Also…it’s clear you enjoy trollin’ just to get a rise out of commenters here. Not that I’m opposed to that at all…but your last two responses were well reasoned and well written…you play the role of Troll Prince well. I’m impressed.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        I don’t enjoy trolling. I am just commenting as I normally do with my personal opinion. I can’t help it if people react negatively to that. If they don’t like it they are free to move on to the next comment.

  3. lakerade - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    The Spurs showed what team basketball should look like and how lethal it can be to opposition if everyone commits. Congratulations to them, now on to the offseason where, among other things, that Finals clobbering has put into serious question whether the window is still open in Miami. My call is lebron to the cavs w Love, and Melo to chicago. Bosh maybe to golden state, and Wade opts in because he knows the end is nigh. That all certainly was unlikely before the Finals started, but now that the beatdown is complete I don’t think any free agent will be convinced there is still a big 3 in Miami.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:20 AM

      You know, I think a crushing finals defeat the year prior might be a prerequisite for a performance like that. It’s not like they won just because they played great team basketball – they were also fueled by the pain from 2013.

      The window is open in Miami as long as James is there and it doesn’t sound like he’s planning on going anywhere – and why would he? Of all the potential LBJ destinations the only place that gives him a sure shot at the title next year is Miami.

      • loubearkane - Jun 16, 2014 at 5:29 AM

        I’ll give it to you , you’re a persistent troll

      • bhunter1995 - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:12 AM

        @loubearkane its like listening to Skip Bayless if Skip had a mancrush on LBJ, and a lobotomy.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        Bayless would actually benefit from an LBJ mancrush and a lobotomy. He would finally start making some sense.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        its funny, right? this kid…he even knows he is a troll and loves it…and he knows he is the royal clown of PBT. actually, i bet he is proud of that. says a lot about his personal life. sad that he “enjoys” being the least credible/respected commenter on PBT. way to go, kid. smh.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        You are sooo obsessed with me. It’s hilarious. You really can’t get under my skin or in any way affect my feelings or confidence. You are about the 1,000th person to try and fail. So you can stop trying.

  4. wallabear - Jun 16, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    The Spurs, hands-down, were better at 3-point shooting. I just hope that will not be the “copy-cat” sequence of the league now, to acquire players who can only shoot 3-pointers like Mills and Leonard. That would make the game less fun. Driving the ball into the paint, and taking it to-the-hoop the way Tony Parker and LeKing do it — that is the real game of basketball.

    • teabone413 - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      it very clear you did not watch the game and have no clue about basketball.

    • therealhtj - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      The Spurs 3 point shooting was a product of a productive Timmy (at times dominant) and a lack of inside presence by the Heat. Wouldn’t happen against a team with a strong post defender.

  5. jacobk621 - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    Why can’t this moron (anti) see the writing on the wall ?? Do we need crayons to help you along !!!

  6. robigd - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    After it is all said and done, I think people need to step back and realize what an accomplishment it was just for San Antonio to actually get to the finals. They endured a tough Dallas team, a young, talented Portland team, and overcame their recent kryptonite, which is OKC, and this was JUST to get to the Finals to get a chance to play the back-to-back champs.

    @Anti, Pat Riley and Spolestra got exposed during this series.

  7. newyorkball82 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    5 total championship rings or back to back championships? Hmmm. Is second place really worth bragging about. I think the only thing anyone is gonna remember are the two in the middle. They got whooped in the first one and got whooped even worse in this last one. Remember the Buffalo Bills? They never won the big game, but they had back to back trips. Sure, getting there is half the battle, but they only won 2 of 4…

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Same goes for going for championships. People will remember this Heat club. They will not remember losers like the Knicks, Celtics, and Lakers. Nothing personal there, dude. Your comments are consistently good; even if you don’t like an opponent like LeBron, you respect them.

  8. jimeejohnson - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Huge congratulations to the 2014 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs! Not only did you win the title but you beat the Heat and got revenge in the process. And thanks, San Antonio, for the Mexican seafood.

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