Popovich: Spurs ‘hurting’ after loss in finals
It’s easy to say it was all a bit out of character for Popovich, but the circumstances were new to the San Antonio Spurs coach and all those who have followed them.
San Antonio was 28 seconds away from going a perfect 5 for 5 in the NBA Finals under Popovich when everything went wrong. The Miami Heat rallied from a five-point deficit to tie Game 6, eventually winning in overtime Tuesday and then closing out their second straight title Thursday with a victory in Game 7.
So, instead of preparing for a victory parade along the San Antonio River, the Spurs spent Saturday morning cleaning out their lockers at the team’s practice facility.
“I don’t really want to do a soliloquy, but the elephant in the room is that we’re all hurting because we had an opportunity to win a championship right in the palm of our hands and it didn’t happen,” Popovich said. “So, that hurts, and it will dissipate over time, but right now it hurts everyone to varying degrees.”
San Antonio never trailed in the NBA Finals previously under Popovich and Tim Duncan, but they also never faced a player like LeBron James, not even when they swept a then 22-year-old James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2007 championship.
James’ 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation helped tie Game 6 and his jumper with 1:43 left in overtime proved to be the winner in a 103-100 victory. He earned his second straight Finals MVP after finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in Game 6 and 37 points and 12 boards in a 95-88 victory in Game 7.
Will losing the title in such heartbreaking fashion makes it tougher for the Spurs to rebound next season and compete for another title?
“That’s the kind of articles you guys write,” Popovich said, deflecting the question before cracking a smile, “that we always read. ... I read every one of them, I swear, I swear, I read every one.”
Popovich’s mood, along with the rest of the team, was lifted by the thousands of fans who greeted them at the airport Friday afternoon.