How will history remember the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs? You might start by listening to Chris Bosh. The Miami Heat big man spared nothing in his praise of the team that just ousted him from the NBA Finals, four games to one:
Chris Bosh on these Spurs: "Best team I ever saw. Best team I ever played against."— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 16, 2014
Before Game 5, Bosh was sounding a different tune.
Per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver, Bosh said, "We're not going down, we're going to win this game tonight. We're going to come, prepare like we need to do. Plain and simple, we're going to win this game."
Golliver wrote, "File Bosh's statements under the power of positive thinking. After hitting the game-sealing three-pointer in Game 2, Bosh was held to just nine points and three rebounds in Game 3 and 12 points and four rebounds in Game 4."
Indeed, Bosh struggled throughout the second half of the Finals. After scoring 18 points in each of Games 1 and 2, he combined to score just 34 points through the final three games.
Needless to say, things didn't work out as the 30-year-old predicted on Sunday night.
San Antonio won Game 5 by a final score of 104-87, securing Tim Duncan his fifth ring and exacting some measure of vengeance after choking away the 2013 Finals in the waning moments of Game 6 (before going on to lose Game 7 as well).
Bosh wasn't the only one complimenting San Antonio's body of work:
"We ran up against a better team this year" -- LeBron James after 2014 #NBAFinals elimination— InsideHoops.com NBA (@InsideHoops) June 16, 2014
LeBron James: "That’s how team basketball should be played … it’s never about the individual." Spurs play the way James prefers to play.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) June 16, 2014
LeBron asked if the Spurs are best he's ever played against: "I would agree."— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) June 16, 2014
James' comments were slightly more muted, but the bottom line was clear enough. Miami has plenty of respect for what the Spurs just accomplished.
James certainly did his part in Game 5, posting 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the losing effort. He had 17 in the first quarter alone, a period in which the Heat ran out to a 16-point lead before the Spurs started eating away at the deficit.
Speculation will now turn to what becomes of James, Bosh and Big Three cohort Dwyane Wade. It's hard to imagine this group splitting up after four straight trips to the Finals, but that certainly won't stop other teams from fantasizing about the possibility of snatching away some of Miami's riches.
Before there's even a chance of that happening, at least one of the Big Three would have to terminate his contract early. Thus far, there's been no indication any of them is planning to do so.