NBA winners and losers, finals edition

NBA winners and losers, finals edition
June 16, 2014, 9:30 am
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(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

With San Antonio's rousing Game 5 win and dominant 4-1 NBA finals victory over the Miami Heat, the Spurs claimed their fifth title since 1999. The result also meant the Heat are 2-2 after reaching their fourth straight NBA Finals. It also signals that the 2013-14 season is over, on the court anyway. Before we sign off, we look at the winners and losers from the championship round and beyond. 


Tim Duncan - First player to win a championship as a starter in three different decades. Averaged 15.4 points and 10 rebounds against the Heat, meaning he's gone for at least 15 and 10 in all six of his finals appearances. The Big Fundamental matched Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant with five rings, surpassed Shaquille O'Neal's four. Most of all and even at 38 years old, Tim Duncan remains San Antonio's focal point. That's on the court and with their collective mental approach. One constant exists among all sports: Teams take on the personality of their most dominant figure. Duncan might not have much in the way of a charisma. He doesn't need to walk the walk because he doesn't talk the talk. To paraphrase DJ Khaled, all he does is win which is what Herm Edwards will tell you is why games are played.

Kawhi Leonard - The Spurs traded George Hill to the Indiana Pacers for the rights to Leonard, the 15th player selected in the 2011 NBA Draft. After Leonard more than held his own versus LeBron James in three straight blowout wins, the list of players San Antonio now covets for the big handed, high energy forward isn't a long one. Leonard, 22, became the youngest NBA Finals MVP since 20-year-old Magic Johnson in 1980 and the seventh player to receive such honors without making the All-Star team in the same season. Who knows how his career starts if a certain other team who shall remain nameless drafted him. What we do know is the low-key Leonard fit perfectly with the workmanlike Spurs. He's got the ring and trophy to prove it.

Boris Diaw and Patty Mills - Both international players keyed San Antonio's bench effort all season, but turned into headliners against Miami just as they are set to enter free agency. Diaw's insertion into the starting lineup for Game 3 turned the series due to his high-end passing and dominance over Miami's dismal power forward options. The bouncy Mills epitomized instant-offense and jacked up his future contract numbers in the process. Forget about each team's stars; the big discrepancy between the teams came with players 3-12. 

Mike Miller - Speaking of free agents, bet your money that the forward's agent will remind teams how much Miami missed their perimeter-shooting client against San Antonio.

Kobe Bryant's legacy - Historically speaking, James hasn't past it, yet.

Eastern Conference - Maybe the Heat keep the band back together and go for a fifth straight finals appearance. After four straight blowout losses with a roster full of holes and James hardly sounding like guy drooling for another shot at a title under current conditions, odds that they don't just went down.

NBA - Read the previous point. Uncertainty around LeBron's future is conversation and ratings gold, Jerry, gold!


Mario Chalmers - So, so bad during these finals that coach Erik Spolestra benched the starting point guard for Game 5. Chalmers isn't the lone issue in Miami's rotation, but in this era of stellar point guard play across the league, the Heat never have an edge in a head-to-head scenario. Now Chalmers enters free agency after making $4 million this past season. Don't expect a raise, Mario.

Miami's bench - Guys, it's been a fun ride. Hope you enjoyed the view. For most of you, it's time to exit. Please remember to grab your belongings and have a great day.

James' legacy ascension- Plenty of years remain for the two-time champion and four-time regular season MVP to add several more lines to his résumé. Now, he's 2-3 in five NBA finals appearances and coming of four losses by at least 15 points apiece. Perhaps this will stop the Michael Jordan comparisons and any attempts to lock James into the top-10 players all time. Again, there will be more chances whether in Miami elsewhere and LeBron's trajectory continues pointing due north. Let's just see what happens before assuming more titles are coming. Remember, four years ago some thought this Miami team would win not one NBA title, not two, not three, not...

Western Conference - Who knows what the future holds for the mysterious Duncan, but some that cover the Spurs don't believe the league's greatest power forward ever is ready to call it a career. If Duncan stays, coach Gregg Popovich stays. If those two stay, San Antonio remains the team to beat out West.

NBA - The season is over. Bummer.