Thousands of fans hit the street to see their heroes and “the” biggest prize in basketball.
The San Antonio Spurs celebrated their fifth title in franchise history by climbing onto barges that floated down the river walk followed by a triumphant rally at the Alamodome arena.
The National Basketball Association champions were greeted by about 100,000 people on the river walk parade and about 75,000 at the downtown Alamodome on Wednesday.
The celebration began at the Arneson River Theater and moved through the River Center extension before finally concluding at the Convent Street Bridge. Players and coaches then addressed fans inside the Alamodome during a special ceremony.
“It is soaking in, but I’m still going to live it up for about the whole summer,” said Kawhi Leonard, who was named MVP of the NBA finals. “I’ve been trying to live the moment. It’s been hard to sleep. Thought I would get some sleep
after we won the finals, but I’m still celebrating.”
Some fans began lining up outside the Alamodome in 90 degree Fahrenheit heat five hours before the celebrations began.
The Spurs completed their five game demolition of the Miami Heat with a 104-87 win Sunday night in San Antonio.
They have five championships since 1999 and Tim Duncan has been part of all of those.
Asked if he would be back for an 18th season, Duncan declined to answer on Wednesday. Duncan has a $10 million player option for next season.
“It’s been too long. Seven years since the last one,” Duncan said of the 2007 championship. “Toward the end of my career, it’s been sweet. It’s a great team, a great bunch of guys, a lot of fun.”
Once inside the Alamodome, Australian point guard Patty Mills introduced coaches and players. Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker received standing ovations after being introduced to the crowd.
“What I think we enjoyed the most is that we’re all friends before we’re teammates,” Mills said.
Duncan thanked former Spur and Hall of Famer David Robinson, who sat in the crowd wearing a championship T-shirt. The two played for San Antonio from 1997-2003.
“I give a lot of credit to David,” Duncan said.