The Hero vanquished The Team that swept him in 2007.
Was that the Spurs’ final run towards greatness?
The Team thought no. They wanted another shot. They re-signed Manu Ginobili, even after his self-destruction in the Finals, and Tiago Splitter to a questionable contract.
The Team wanted to dethrone The Hero.
The two squads had different paths, with the Spurs having stiffer competition out west, and the Heat cruising through the east, but both the teams re-emerged as the champions of each conference.
The Hero faced The Team once again in the NBA Finals.
What started out as a tight series ended in annihilation.
The Spurs effortlessly dissected the Heat defense, with terrific spacing, cross-court beauties being thrown, slick cuts and even monster posterizations, courtesy of Ginobili.
They also stifled Miami’s offense, forcing them into awkward sets and isolations. The Heat had no answers.
The Hero’s cohorts? Disappeared. Dwyane Wade looked like a shell of his former self. Chris Bosh settled for outside shots and couldn’t buy a bucket.
The Hero tried his best and gave a valiant effort. Down 3-1, James led the Heat to an early 22-6 lead in Game 5, while scoring 17 first quarter points.
Then, The Team woke up.
Following a transition three from Kawhi Leonard, they took the lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back, culminating with a 104-87 win, crushing the Heat in five games and winning the franchise’s fifth NBA championship.
While Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Ginobili and head coach Gregg Popovich had been the faces of the Spurs, the collective effort of their play, along with other role players, pushed them to the title.
Boris Diaw, just two years removed from being cut by the worst record ever Charlotte Bobcats, terrorized the Heat with his all-around game.
Last year, Patty Mills played 13 total minutes in the Finals. This year, his 3-point barrage will continue to haunt the Heat.
The one dubbed as the “future of the Spurs,” Leonard, became a household name. On defense, he hounded James. On offense, his repertoire surprised the Heat; they couldn’t stop him. The quiet 22-year-old broke out, averaging 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, netting him the NBA Finals MVP.
Following the game, The Hero said he “didn’t do enough.” It was like he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again. Like before, he exchanged his cape for a white flag.
The Team dethroned The Hero. The Team got their revenge. Team basketball prevailed.
The Spurs put on a master class of beautiful basketball during its run. While superstars and hero-ball run the league, the team, as a whole, still has a place in the league.
The Spurs just proved that