EUROPEANS IN THE NBA
|Tony Parker: "We've been together for so long cause we're not letting our ego get in the way, the main thing is to win the championship" |
European stars Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Marco Belinelli became an integral part of the most dominant performance in an NBA Finals in living memory when the San Antonio Spurs clinched the 2014 NBA title, on Sunday night.
The Spurs defeated the two-time defending champions Miami Heat 4-1 in this title series by the biggest point differential in history (18-point winning margin on average) and converting 52.8% of their attempts from the floor, the highest shooting percentage in a Finals series in at least the past 60 years, when the shot-clock came into effect.
On Sunday, San Antonio came back swiftly from a 22-6 deficit midway through the opening quarter to once again outplay the Heat and register a 104-87 win at home and lift the NBA champion's trophy for the fifth time in club history.
The real exhibition of Gregg Popovich's side however came in the third and fourth games of the series, in Miami, when they delivered a masterclass in ball circulation and floor spacing to cruise to a 111-92 victory in Game 3 and a 107-86 triumph in Game 4.
"I think that's the best basketball we've played in the last five, six years, by far," a calm Parker told NBA TV once the wild celebrations started moving from the AT&T Center to the streets of San Antonio.
"Especially the two games in Miami, to go there and beat the two-time champs by 20, twice, it's quite an accomplishment."
Parker averaged 18 points and 4.6 assists per game in the Finals, Diaw averaged 6.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while Belinelli contributed 4.6 points per clash in the title series for a Spurs side that was led by their young star Kawhi Leonard, who was named Finals MVP.
"Everybody talks about our shooting but our main focus was to stop them and what we talked about was our defence," Parker said.
"We've been together for so long cause we're not letting our ego get in the way, the main thing is to win the championship."
While everyone expected the big performances by the French point guard, the big revelation for the Spurs in this series, after MVP Leonard, was Parker's childhood friend and fellow EuroBasket 2013 champion Diaw.
The France captain was omnipresent on both ends of the floor, often paired with LeBron James, and his contribution in 'intangibles' provided such a boost to the Spurs that he was converted to one of the main talking points of the title series, even among those who usually cannot see past stat-sheet figures.
"First of all, he is the ultimate team player," Parker said about his team-mate on the EuroBasket and NBA champions.
"He only cares about how the team is doing and he is passing to help someone else get a better shot.
"I am so happy for him because not everyone can see what he can do on the big stage but now he is on the right team for him and he can show all his skills.
"He was unbelievable in the Conference Finals (against Oklahoma City Thunder) and he kept it going in the finals.
"We dreamt about winning a championship with him when we were 13 years old, we were in the same classroom and to have done this, it is almost unbelievable."