A year after Ray Allen gutted the Spurs' celebration plans en route to Miami's second consecutive championship, San Antonio claimed its revenge in five games, earning a 14-point average margin of victory in a surprisingly one-sided affair.
That gives Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan their fifth championship over a 15-year stretch. While onlookers may think the occasionally cranky coach and introverted superstar are robots who will let loose like this, they're indeed human beings.
Now that the hard part is over, it's time to celebrate with a championship parade set for Wednesday. The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. local time at Arneson River Theater. Fans can claim a spot on the River Walk starting at 4 p.m.
Per News 4 San Antonio's Emily Baucum, a change has been made to the route, which was originally planned to end at the Navarro Street Bridge.
Local television affiliates will broadcast the proceedings, which will be available for live stream on the team's affiliate site at NBA.com.
The Alamodome will open its doors at 4:30 p.m, and the team will make a stop there to address its fans and show off its new hardware. No ticket purchase is necessary.
San Antonio's legion of fans includes Mayor Julian Castro, who congratulated the team in the press release posted on the team's website.
“The City is proud of our Spurs,” Castro said. “This fifth championship cements the Spurs’ legacy as one of the greatest sports franchises in history.”
Now they just need Mother Nature's cooperation. According to The Weather Channel's forecast, fans will endure a blistering 93-degree day with 64 percent humidity and a 30 percent chance of rain. Isolated thunderstorms are expected during the afternoon.
While championship parades are old hat by now for Popovich, Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, it's a coronation ceremony of sorts for Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The 22-year-old took over the series during the final three games, recording a combined 71 points and 28 rebounds while guarding LeBron James.
Popovich spoke highly of his budding star in the post-Game 5 press conference.
Before Leonard joined the fold in 2011, the Spurs had suffered two first-round exits in the previous three seasons. They were in a perpetual state of unsuccessfully trying to make "one last run," but he extended their championship window with smothering defense and an undying motor on both ends.
Not only did Leonard come up big in the Finals, but he led the team with 7.7 win shares during the regular season, per Basketball-Reference. He joins Will Perdue—who finished first among the squad during a 20-win season that netted them the No. 1 pick that became Duncan—as the only player outside of the current Big Three and David Robinson to lead the category in the last 25 years.
This parade is about honoring an indelible legacy left behind by arguably the most underappreciated powerhouse in the history of sports. But it's just as much a changing of the guard; this team, which was made transcendent on rapid cuts and ball movement, is eons apart from the slow-moving, post-up and defense-dependent Spurs of yesteryear.
Not only was Leonard an essential cog in the Spurs' championship run, he's the biggest reason fans shouldn't expect any retirement announcements from Duncan and Pop on Wednesday. If this team stays intact, there's no reason it can't host another celebratory parade next year.