CLEVELAND - True roundball royalty, the San Antonio Spurs are once again
wearing the crown. LeBron James, Cleveland's preordained King, isn't quite ready
San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan (L) hugs
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James next to the Larry O'Brien Trophy after
the Spurs defeated the Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals basketball series
in Cleveland, Ohio, June 14, 2007. [Reuters]
Finals MVP Tony Parker scored 24 points, Manu Ginobili had 27 - 13 in the
fourth quarter and the Spurs, who bounced over from the ABA in 1976, moved in
among the NBA's greatest franchises with an 83-82 victory Thursday night for a
sweep of the Cavaliers - court jesters through much of their first finals.
With their fourth championship since 1999 and third in five years, the Spurs
joined the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as the only
teams in NBA history to win four titles.
And No. 5 might not be far away either with Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan
leading this Texas-oiled machine. Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, now a
perfect 4-for-4 together in finals appearances, spent most of the postseason
dismissing talk that they should be considered a dynasty.
But with titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, there's no more reason to
pretend they aren't one.
As the final seconds ticked off on Cleveland's finest season, Duncan stood at
center court with both arms raised triumphantly as the rest of the Spurs danced
around their center in a huddle. San Antonio's star sought out Cleveland's Eric
Snow, but was unable to find James in the pandemonium.
Moments later, the Spurs put on champions baseball caps, which has almost
become a June ritual for them.
The final moments were hectic, though, as the Spurs needed every last free
throw to hold off the Cavaliers, who made a last stand at home in a season of
seasons for their once downtrodden franchise.
Cleveland went on an 11-0 run to open the fourth quarter, taking its first
lead in any second half of the series on James' drive with 7:55 left. Cleveland
went up 63-60 on Daniel Gibson's drive, but that's when Duncan and Co. showed
why they're champions.
Ginobili scored inside, was fouled and missed his free throw. But Duncan
muscled into the lane and tipped in the miss to make it 66-63. The Cavs tied it,
but Ginobili, who didn't make a field goal in Game 3, dropped a 3-pointer, and
when James missed a 3, the Spurs regained control by outworking Cleveland.
Duncan and Fabricio Oberto scrapped for offensive rebounds as the Spurs kept
the ball for nearly two minutes before Oberto's three-point play made it 72-66
with 2:29 remaining. Duncan then poked the ball away from James and Oberto
scored underneath to give San Antonio a 74-66 lead.
James, possibly a little tired following the early morning birth of his
second son, hit another 3-pointer but Ginobili responded again with a tough
runner in the lane to make it 76-69.
Damon Jones made three free throws and James made another 3-pointer, but
Ginobili made four free throws in the final seven seconds and immediately began
celebrating a title that was all but inevitable.
San Antonio's four-game sweep was the eighth since the finals began in 1947.
Parker, who averaged 24.5 points on 57 percent shooting, became the first
European-born player to be honored as MVP. Until now, he was mostly viewed as a
pretty decent player with a prettier fiance, TV actress Eva Longoria.
When Parker was handed his trophy, his soon-to-be-bride wiped away tears.
The 25-year-old, though, was an unstoppable, silver-and-black blur against
the Cavs, who had no one who could contain him and who looked like they stumbled
into their first finals by accident.
James had Cleveland fans believing the city's 43-year championship drought
was about to end. However, he had a rough introduction to the league's climactic
event, one he figures to reach again.
He shot just 10-of-30 in Game 4 and only 36 percent in the series and never
figured out how to rise above or get around the Spurs, whose defensive schemes
were designed to make the other Cavaliers beat them.
James scored 24 points, and while he took the Cavaliers as far as they've
ever gone, he failed to give them new life in this series on the same day his
second son, Bryce Maximus James, was born.
Duncan, an MVP in his first three finals, had only 12 points but grabbed 15
But the 31-year-old, whose arrival in 1997 in San Antonio is the launching
point for the Spurs' ascension, he got his fourth ring and helped a few of the
other Spurs - Michael Finley, Jacque Vaughn and Brent Barry win their first.
Spurs forward Robert Horry got another one, too, his seventh - the most by a