For the better part of two decades, the San Antonio Spurs have succeeded with a particular kind of focus and effort. No matter the style of basketball, the Spurs have approached winning games as a craft, assessing various paths to victory and solving problems with logic and efficiency.
For the most part, that method has appeared to start from the team's longtime leaders, head coach Gregg Popovich and superstar big man Tim Duncan. At times, the Spurs have been criticized for not courting the media attention that helps turn a successful team into basketball ambassadors, but it's hard to argue they don't know what they're doing.
Yet, when the Spurs captured their fifth NBA championship against the Miami Heat on Sunday night, it was notable to see Popovich and Duncan displaying a great deal of emotion once the accomplishment was complete. As Spurs fans and players celebrated at AT&T Center, the famously gruff Popovich could be seen soaking in the scene and taking some time to reflect on the bench:
While Pop showed his reverence for the moment, Duncan let it all out, at least relative to his usual stoic demeanor on the court. In a terrific postgame interview with ESPN's Doris Burke, Duncan spoke about the emotion of winning his first title since 2007 and how the Spurs fought back from recent disappointments. Check out the reaction from both men in this video:
On Father's Day, Duncan clearly felt most deeply about his relationship with his two children, both of whom were in attendance for Game 5 and immediately embraced their father following the game. ABC cameras caught father and children right as the game ended:
And Sam Amick of USA Today snapped another great photo as the Spurs accepted the Larry O'Brien Trophy:
Duncan also celebrated with longtime teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker before the final buzzer:
To a certain extent, the Spurs' supposed lack of emotion has always been overstated — Duncan has been known to argue various foul calls with disbelief, Popovich regularly screams from his spot on or near the bench, and various other players make their presence known after big plays. The difference after Game 5 was that the Spurs appeared relieved and externallly acknowledged the importance of this accomplishment. Usually, this team seems focused on the challenge in front of them and the best possible way to come out ahead. On Sunday, the Spurs allowed themselves to take the long view of those individual tasks and consider everything that went into this title, both personally and professionally.
- - - - - - -