The NBA Finals ended with a stomping of the Miami Heat at the hands of the well-oiled machines known as this year’s San Antonio Spurs, putting an end to three-peat aspirations while netting the Western Conference team their fifth championship ring. As always, the internet went wild over social media, but we’re really most interested in what the ballers themselves had to say. Here are the league reactions to San Antonio’s 4-1 series win, including those of the gracious Heat and the Spurs players themselves.
As for championship first-timer Tiago Splitter, the excitement of netting his very first NBA title was almost too much for him. He barely slept.
Boris Diaw credited the Spurs’ mindset for the win. The Spurs fought through a tough Western Conference, arming them with a fighting mentality. The Heat, on the other hand, blasted through a comparatively easier Eastern Conference, leaving them mentally unprepared for such a tough matchup.
Tony Parker started the series against the Heat coming off an ankle injury aggravated in the Spurs’ fight against OKC. With many questioning his ability to perform, he struggled to keep up with LeBron James but ultimately earned the right to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Aron Baynes worked in his own photo shoot with the trophy, joining Patty Mills in showing off his home country pride.
Of course, the owner has to say something. Micky Arison offered a brief concession following the loss.
Present-day Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill knows what the Heat were packing from his team’s loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. After that, we’d like to think he got at least a little satisfaction from the Heat’s defeat.
Nando De Colo—who spent 2012, 2013 and part of 2014 playing for San Antonio before being traded to the Toronto Raptors for Austin Daye—watched from the Great White North as his former teammates cruised to a bruising 104-87 victory. Had De Cold stayed, he would have earned his first championship ring. Daye saw 5.9 minutes on the court these playoffs. That has to hurt.
Nazr Mohammed, on the other hand, has less of a claim on this championship run. The centre has been a bit of a journeyman since starting out in 1998, only playing one season with the Spurs in 2005-2006.
The mitt-handed Kawhi Leonard played a massive role in clinching the series with his relentless defence on LeBron James and equally impressive performance on the other end of the court. In fact, Game 5 was Sugar K’s third straight round of netting more than 20 points per 48 minutes. Leonard’s performance earned him the honour of being named Finals MVP. More than just a title, the rest of the league recognized his efforts.
Tim Duncan’s performance in this Finals series has put him up there with the greatest players of all time, trailing only behind His Airness himself for the top honours. Recognizing this, several players voiced their appreciation of the power forward, including Anthony Morrow and Carl Landry.
Players on different teams throughout the league recognized the Spurs’ official pedestal spot as a role model for the rest of them. Jamal Crawford even went as far as to call them the next blueprint team, an unofficial title the Heat claimed when they put together this playoffs-ready team in 2013. Seems like Al Horford agrees that they’re a shining example of playoffs material.
Teamwork was also a theme, a Dirk Nowitzki mentioned. The Spurs played like clockwork, keeping the Heat on their toes. San Antonio didn’t rely as heavily on a single player to get the job done. The lack of support for LeBron essentially crippled the Heat’s run.
Overall, none summed it up the Spurs’ series—if not their entire playoffs effort—better than Jeremy Lin.