The Spurs beat the Heat to win the 2014 NBA title, in a five-game series that showed just how deserving San Antonio was of that championship crown.
The team was completely dominant from an offensive standpoint, beating Miami handily in the last three games by 19, 21, and 17 points.
But looking back to Game 1, no one yet knew how the series would play out. And LeBron James leaving in the fourth quarter after suffering cramps from dehydration was something that’s happened only one time to him in his entire career. Obviously, San Antonio was able to cruise to victory without James on the floor.
Some would say that was a fortunate turn for the Spurs, and Gregg Popovich knows better than anyone just how critical of a role luck can play on a team’s road to championship success.
“A lot of times winning a championship, people don’t believe — well, I guess the last team standing is probably the best team — but good fortune plays a huge role,” he said. “What’s good fortune? It’s a guy off the bench having a great series. It might be a call or a non-call by an official. It might be an injury. It could be a lot of different things: The way the ball bounces as it ordinarily wouldn’t do in this or that circumstance.
“When we lost in Game 7 to Dallas here in the second round a few years back we were a pretty darn good team and we were capable of winning the championship. The year that Fisher hit the point-four on us we were a pretty good team and I think we were capable of winning a championship. Well, those teams that did win something happened at the opposite end of the spectrum, fortune-wise, that helped them get there. It’s just the way it is.
“In Game 6 of the second half against Oklahoma City last year you wouldn’t have predicted we’d win that game, down nine going into the second half of that game without Tony. And it happened because it’s a game and everything isn’t pre-ordained. Winning championships has something to do with fortune and circumstances and that repeat thing just hasn’t gone our way in that sense.”
This came as part of a discussion about why the Spurs have never won titles in consecutive years; San Antonio’s championships came in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.
The good fortune Popovich mentions that aided the team last year pales in comparison to the bad luck that befell his squad the year prior. The Spurs were on the verge of locking up the 2013 title in Game 6 against Miami, only to see Ray Allen hit one of the greatest shots in NBA history to send the game to overtime, where the Heat ultimately prevailed before winning the series in seven games.