Spurs, a family melting pot
Pop turned this magnificent melting pot of international talents into a true tribal family that plays basketball the right way. All the major players on the team could have made more money elsewhere, but they preferred to stay united out of their love of playing winning basketball together!
The San Antonio Spurs are a blueprint for success in the future of this sport with their uptempo, aggressive, swing-the-ball, drive-and-kick, look-for-the-open-man offense and their lock-down, rotating, close-down-the-paint, team defense. If you don't rain in the three-point shots against that defense, you can't win!
Since their last title ages ago in 2007, we've been announcing the demise of the franchise because of their aging roster, but we were wrong and in this season's NBA Finals it was the Miami Heat that looked old and tired, limping towards the end of a glorious cycle of four Finals in a row.
The capacity of Popovich and his staff to rebuild and rejuvenate the roster while forming and improving players to fit the system is also a blueprint for success. When you see all the general managers and coaches around the league who learned the ropes in San Antonio, you see that these methods will continue working far into the future.
Look at the improvement in Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills or even in 32 year-old Diaw this season. All these players needed a season or two to comprehend what Pop needed from them, but now they are essential pieces of the Spurs' steamroller of success!
Kawhi Leonard said before Game 5 that he didn't care about the MVP trophy but just about how to win the next game. At 22, he's the youngest Finals MVP since Magic Johnson in 1980 (Duncan won it at age 23 in 1999) and his humble and discreet personality fit perfectly with the Spurs family and make him the future face of the franchise.
His father was murdered just six years ago and he was vastly underrated out of college by everyone except San Antonio who traded George Hill to get him. His youthful athleticism, rapid improvement, defense on LeBron James and high scoring in the last three wins in a row make him a logical MVP because he gave the whole franchise a second wind.
The Spurs' Big Three were still essential to success as Parker ran the show (with help from his buddy Diaw, the second creator in the offense) and Duncan and Ginobili picked their spots and looked 10 years younger. The rare times that their motion offense bogged down they could still dump the ball into Duncan in the low post if necessary like the Spurs did from 1999 to 2009.
As usual, Manu (19 points) was the only guy with the right to venture away from the system for some individual exploits like his incredible dunk in the second quarter of Game 5.
With Mills making five of eight three-pointers to make up for some Parker misses early on and Boris dishing out the caviar passes, the Spurs and their "medium ball" (Diaw in for Splitter) as Popovich described it, were unbeatable for a Miami team that could only count on LeBron's individualistic forays to hang on in the first quarter.
With the guards producing little and the bench producing even less, Eric Spoelstra was rendered helpless. The Heat's reign seems clearly over as James will test free agency and the team needs to rebuild.
It's interesting to note that after the rumors of Carmelo Anthony being courted by the Heat, the team lost three in a row! In the end, we must admit that James was right to come to Miami because he will be leaving (or not) with four Finals appearances and two titles that he would have never got if he had stayed in Cleveland.
The near future of the Spurs seems pretty secure as Pop, Duncan and Ginobili seem motivated to go for a back-to-back. The way Pop smartly limits their playing time permits even players approaching the age of 40 to dream of winning another title.
Parker will rest this summer after 10 glorious months that saw him become European and NBA champion alongside Diaw, his best friend since the age of 14!
This fairy tale revenge saga after the immense disappointment of last season's NBA Finals slipping through the Spurs' fingers is the stuff Hollywood blockbusters are made of!
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