Basketball: Spurs nick it from Knicks

SAN ANTONIO cheered itself hoarse over the weekend to celebrate the city's first-ever victory in the NBA championship. After a nail-biting game on Friday night, the Spurs beat the New York Knicks by just one point to take the series 4-1.

More than 10,000 people waited at the city's airport in searing heat for the team to fly back from their triumph at Madison Square Garden. Tim Duncan, the modest 6ft 10in centre who led the team to victory and was voted Most Valuable Player of the series, was greeted with loud chants of "MVP! MVP!"

Duncan, who scored 31 points in the team's 78-77 victory, is the first player to win the MVP after Michael Jordan, who held it as an almost permanent possession. Jordan won the title six times in the 1990s, including a straight run from 1996-98, and Duncan is being spoken of as his successor. He and David Robinson, who tops seven feet, were the team's "twin towers". But Robinson is 34 years old; Duncan is only 23, in his second season in the NBA, with a great career in front of him.

From the US Virgin Islands, he is quiet, diffident and calm, preferring to play rather than talk, unlike some of his colleagues in the NBA. He has few illusions about the pressure that winning the MVP will put on him next season. "It's an incredible honour," he said. "But all it means is that they're going to come at you harder next time. All you do is get a high off it all summer and come back at it next year."

The final game had shifted madly from one side to the other, and it never once seemed that the Knicks were beaten, even right at the end. With 21 seconds left to play, Latrell Sprewell was too far under the basket as a pass came in from Charlie Ward. Sprewell fluffed it, and the Spurs fans went wild. It was the second victory for Texas this year, after the Dallas Stars took the Stanley Cup, ice hockey's top prize.

The Knicks had never looked likely to make it as far as the play-offs, let alone the finals, so to get within a whisker of the trophy was an achievement in itself. Injury took Patrick Ewing from them. But the season ended with redemption of a kind for Sprewell, one of the most reviled players on the court for his 1997 attempt to choke the Warriors coach, PJ Carlesimo. He won a starter's place in the team, and he scored 35 points in the last game. If that last pass had gone differently Sprewell would have been the hero of the hour.

Basketball came into this season looking very poorly. The lock-out had delayed its start and led to some very harsh words from players, managers, fans and the media. And Michael Jordan, who so dominated the game, had gone. But the drama and excitement of the finals went some way towards erasing that.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - Kent - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# and .Net Developer - n...

Guru Careers: Digital Marketing Exec / Online Marketing Executive

£35 - 40k: Guru Careers: Our client has a new role for a Digital Marketing Exe...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'