San Antonio Spurs win NBA title
San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker lifts the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy after Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals. The Spurs won the game 104-87. ASSOCIATED PRESS
After dunking against the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) is congratulated by forward Tim Duncan (21) . ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN ANTONIO — From their low moment in the NBA Finals, back to the top of the league.
The San Antonio Spurs turned the rematch with the Miami Heat into no match at all.
The Spurs finished off a dominant run to their fifth NBA championship Sunday night, ending the Heat's two-year title reign with a 104-87 victory that wrapped up the series in five games.
A year after their heartbreaking seven-game defeat, their only loss in six finals appearances, the Spurs won four routs to deny Miami's quest for a third straight championship.
Kawhi Leonard, named the finals MVP, had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs. San Antonio added this title to the ones the Spurs won in 1999, 2003, '05, and '07. They nearly had another last year, but couldn't hold off the Heat and lost in seven games.
San Antonio rebounded from an early 16-point deficit by outscoring the Heat 37-13 from the start of the second quarter to midway in the third.
The celebration the Heat canceled last season was on by the early second half Sunday, when the Spurs had finished digging their way out of an early 16-point hole and opened another huge lead.
LeBron James had 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who lost their spot atop the NBA to the team that had it so long.
The Spurs won four titles in nine years, but hadn't been back on top since 2007, making Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time" an appropriate song choice after the final buzzer.
Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich have been here for all of them, and it was the fourth for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who with Duncan are once again the reigning the Big Three in the NBA.
Leonard vowed to get better after last season’s final-game loss, and he did.
Just think — the San Antonio Spurs' youngest star is only getting started. After watching the Heat celebrate last season, Leonard was the pick as MVP of the series, accepting his award from 11-time champion Bill Russell.
When Commissioner Adam Silver announced Leonard as the MVP, he was mobbed by his teammates, and Popovich roared with laughter, knowing Leonard would have to do what he hates most — talk about himself.
"Right now, it's just surreal to me," Leonard said. "I have a great group of guys behind me."
Leonard had his third straight big game in the series. He fouled out in the fourth quarter, which was barely noticed after the job he did helping keep LeBron James in some sort of check over the final three quarters.
When it was over — actually, a few seconds before it was over — James led a group of Heat players down to the Spurs' bench for the first round of congratulatory hugs.
The first one he gave, and rightly so, was to Leonard. It was James taking the trophy from Russell in each of the last two seasons, after Miami's titles.
This time, the night belonged to Leonard, a 22-year-old who the Spurs have long thought was the heir apparent to the Big 3 of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker.
The Big 3 in San Antonio is still championship-good.
But their key guy now might be Leonard, who just took over this series.
"They just told me, 'Keep being aggressive,'" Leonard said.
He became the youngest Finals MVP since Duncan won it for the Spurs in 1999.
So for the first time since June 21, 2012, the Heat are not champions. This four-year run with James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh together has seen huge success — a league-best 283 wins and four straight trips to the NBA Finals.
Now, each member of the Heat’s Big 3 could become a free agent this summer.