The 2014 NBA Finals are over, and the San Antonio Spurs are your champions, defeating LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five relatively easy games. The Spurs were as impressive a team in those Finals as I can remember, with their flawless ball movement on offense, and intensity on defense. The Heat simply looked outmatched from start to finish, despite having the best player on the planet. Now, we recap: What did we learn?
Here are five things I took away from the 2014 NBA Finals:
5. Welcome to the big stage, Kawhi Leonard, take a seat and stay a while: In a series of superstars on top of superstars, featuring the best player in the world (LeBron), and maybe the greatest player of his generation (Duncan, more on this in a moment), the star that shined brightest was 22 year-old Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, who is undoubtedly quiet off the court, let his play speak for itself, averaging 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks in the series, while shooting 61.2 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from behind the 3-point line. The shooting percentage above all else was especially impressive, as he went toe-to-toe with LeBron statistically, while defending him exceptionally well on the defensive end.
For Leonard, the next step now will be having to perform with the expectations that he should now make the leap to becoming one of this league’s stars. We saw Paul George struggle with this exact expectation this season after similarly going toe-to-toe with LeBron in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. Whether he can use this Finals MVP performance to catapult him to the next level consistently remains to be seen, but its undeniable the young man has arrived to the big stage.
4. It’s been real, D-Wade: While Leonard was the player whose career benefited most from the 2014 Finals, Heat star Dwyane Wade is on the other side of the spotlight. Wade, a future Hall of Fame inductee, looked like a player who has seen his best days pass. To be frank, Wade was awful, especially when you consider how much he was rested throughout the season, and the minimum amount of effort he needed to exert in the playoffs prior to the Finals.
Wade didn’t break a sweat against the Charlotte Bobcats, and barely was needed for the Heat to get past both the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers, which was quite unexpected as the Pacers were supposed to be the Heat’s kryptonite. All in all, Wade really had no excuse not to be ready to play at a high level.
In related news, Wade can opt in to a 2-year, $40 million deal. Amar’e Stoudemire may have some competition in the NBA Stealing Money Club…
3. At least Miami has beaches, LeBron: LeBron James must have been feeling a far too familiar feeling while he and his team were embarrassed against the Spurs. With the aforementioned struggling of D-Wade, and a group of players who are either retiring, or should be considering it, the Miami Heat resembled the 2010 Cleveland Cavaliers far too much for anybody’s comfort level, especially LeBron.
That comparison isn’t exactly fair, as Chris Bosh himself is better than any teammate James had in Cleveland, and while the Cavs had overachievers, the Heat purposely employed veterans they thought would perform well come playoff time. Evidence shows that was pretty far from the truth, as the Miami supporting cast didn’t look like players worthy of gracing a Finals floor.
Ultimately, I don’t see LeBron leaving Miami, but that could end up being a mistake with Wade eating up a ton of salary, not allowing the Heat to properly retool this team like they need to in order to compete.
2. Tim Duncan, VIP member: If you are talking big picture, nobody’s legacy was furthered from the Finals more than coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. However, I would argue Duncan is the ultimate beneficiary, strictly because Popovich is already revered as one of the all-time greats, and would have been, win or lose.
Players are put under a more strict microscope, especially when it comes to wins and losses, and more importantly, championships. Duncan’s fifth ring puts him in elite company, and this championship may be as impressive as any of the other four. Duncan now HAS to be mentioned as one of the top-10 players ever, and instead of his career ending with a heart-breaking defeat, it is now enhanced by a story-book worthy redemption story.
Whether we like it or not, perception still means something, and Duncan’s perception will now always be of a winner, with Ray Allen’s game six corner three seen as a mere bump in the road of success.
1. Teamwork STILL makes the dream work: While the above four points have been focused on individuals, the one thing we learned more than anything else is that basketball is still a TEAM game. In the era of Big -insert number here- and super-teams, the championship was won with beautiful ball movement, and players trusting each other. If you listed the top 10 players in this series, LeBron may be the only Heat player that makes the list (you can argue Bosh would too). In the end, it wasn’t only Duncan and Leonard, or even Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but players like Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, and Patty Mills that won this championship for the Spurs.
In truth, it wasn’t any of them that won it, but it was all of them. The Spurs played at an impeccable level as a team, and I truly believe that the Heat were just the unfortunate opponent of a team on a mission. In my opinion, the Spurs would have embarrassed any other team in the league on that Finals stage playing at that level, opponent insignificant.
The idealist in me would like to believe this may change the way teams are formed, and the way teams play forever. Maybe emphasis will be put on trying to duplicate the Spurs success, and individual accomplishments will be put on the back-burner in favor of a group of individuals forming one unit, and focusing on whatever gives them the best opportunity to win.
The realist in me knows that what I just witnessed in those Finals may be something I never see again.
Frank Santos- Sports-Kings Co-Founder
Dwyane Wade’s divorce from ex-wife and high school sweetheart, Siohvaughn Funches, has been anything but smooth. Funches recently posed on the curb with a sign, claiming poverty because of Wade. But, the biggest cost in the whole fiasco may land in the laps of Wade’s lawyers.
Wade’s ex will be collecting $5 million from the superstar, and 3-time NBA champ, who raked in a modest $17.2 million from his NBA salary alone, last season. Wade also banks from various endorsement deals, so the guy is pretty financially set. But, that won’t change the fact that he might end up paying more than $10 million to his lawyers! Hold up, $10 million? This is the moment when we all realize that we’re in the wrong business.
“We were at about $8 million last year,” said one lawyer who asked not to be named. “He’s paying more for lawyers than what he is paying his wife for the settlement.”
Yikes. The fact that Wade is paying lawyers upwards of $10 million, just to pay his his ex-wife an additional $5 million is insane. That means that Wade is losing essentially his entire salary from last season in one swift move. And we wonder why former athletes go broke with such ease.
Sure, Wade will earn close to another $40 million over the next two seasons from just his deal with the Miami Heat, but losing $15 million in a court battle surely puts a big damper on things for the star shooting guard.
I’m sure you’ve read about Dwyane Wade’s ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, and her lawsuit against the NBA superstar over endorsement deals. One perk of for Siohvaughn during their 2008 divorce settlement, was that cash from these endorsement deals would be deposited into their joint account. Apparently, Siohvaughn believed that she was somehow not getting what was coming to her, and filed a lawsuit against Wade.
The lawsuit was dropped on Thursday. This comes from a report by the Chicago Suns-Times.
The agreement required Wade to pay half of the income from his 2006 NBA contract and all endorsement money into the account.
The suit claimed Funches-Wade has been unable to pay her mortgage, or home and auto insurance because of funds withheld from Wade’s endorsement deals with T-Mobile, Staples, Gatorade and Li Ning, a Chinese sporting goods company.
With half of Wade’s 2006 contract and endorsement earnings going to his ex, it’s a wonder he’s not the one claiming poverty. It’s long been the standing that professional athletes needs classes, or life coaches to help better set aside some funds, or manage their living standards so that they won’t go broke. Perhaps it’s time we start setting ex-wives of professional athletes up with these same things.
It’s no secret that Dwyane Wade just wasn’t the Dwyane Wade of old as the Heat laid claim to their second consecutive NBA title. Wade averaged his lowest scoring output (21.2) since his rookie season back in 2003-04, as well as a very pedestrian 15.9 points per game throughout the playoffs, which is the lowest of his post-season career.
Look, we all see that Wade’s body has broken down a bit. A player like D-Wade has game that is predicated off of speed and athleticism. He’s lost some explosiveness, and even the eyes of casual fans see this. But the fact of the matter is, Wade was playing hurt. You could see it in his game. This wasn’t your average decline. Wade had a blatant injury, and it hurt his performance during the Heat’s road to their second-straight chip.
Luckily, it seems Wade may avoid surgery according to comments he made on Friday. Who wants to have surgery two summers in a row? A report from the Miami Herald explains how Wade could bypass having surgery on his injured knee.
“There will be a few treatments, but it won’t be surgery,” Wade said Friday morning. “A lot of rest is going to be key for them. I’m going to treat my knees very well this summer.”
“I’m about gutting it out,”
We’ve seen Kobe Bryant take this route before, and hopefully avoiding surgery will keep Wade game ready, heading into next season, where the Heat’s focus will be on winning their third straight title. Wade played out game 6 and 7 against the Spurs in the Finals with some purpose, and that gives Heat Nation some comfort, but getting his health under control will be vital if this team plans to roll into dynasty mode, and win, “not one, not two, not three”..
You ever hear of showing out at the club? How about to the tune of $100K? That is exactly what Miami Heat players did after winning the NBA Finals over the San Antonio Spurs in game 7 on Thursday night.
LeBron James, Wade, Bosh and the rest of the band went out in true big boy style, and piled up a gigantic tab on Champagne while celebrating their tough victory at Story Nightclub in Miami, Florida. The Heat and company reportedly ordered 100 bottles of Dom Perignon and three three-liter bottles while getting it in on Thursday night.
This is what happened when you live life in style. LeBron, Wade, and Hip Hop sensation, Drake, can be seen above as they partied the night away, and hell, what’s $100,000 dollars to a couple of NBA Superstars and a Platinum selling recording artist, especially when the Nightclub owner, David Grutman, put the tab on the house. Yep, that’s correct, Gutman ate the bill for the Heat players for a second consecutive championship.
No wonder LeBron took his talents to South Beach!
In every major professional sport, there are guys who, off the field, stand out due to their unique sense of style. Hey, I guess if I were making that much money, I’d have options and be stylish too. Anyway, let’s take a look at the Top 10 guys in sports today who the ladies pay to see, and we wish we could be:
10. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (Boxing)
Floyd is not only 42-0 in his career in the ring, but is allowed to wear an insane amount of jewelry and a pair of expensive shades to make any outfit look pretty sweet.
9. Evan Longoria (MLB)
Longoria epitomizes a person who can mix casual with formal, and pull it off with ease. That fedora is the man.
8. Stevie Johnson (NFL)
SJ13 may be one of the more uniquely styled athletes out there, with his skinny jeans, crazy hats, and colorful outfits. His haircuts and tats are probably the coolest thing about this guy, they’re a style in their own right.
7. Alex Rodriguez (MLB)
A-Rod couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel in the post-season this year and he is obviously metro. Those facts do not undermine his ability to dress well.
6. David Beckham (Soccer)
Beckham was pretty good at soccer once upon a time. It became a problem when men started getting crushes on him, and his celebrity became more important than his sport, a la Matt Leinart.
5. Tom Brady (NFL)
Tommy Boy was a shoe-in for this list before I even started it. Take away his Uggs and overall feminine feel, and he dresses pretty sharp. I’m surprised girls don’t throw their undergarments at him on the field.
4. Reggie Bush (NFL)
Right now, Bush is having a career year running the ball in Miami. Before that, his sense of style was more worth talking about than his disappointing production on the gridiron. I heard he’s sexting Kim Kardashian again.
3. Cole Hamels (MLB)
Before seeing how Hamels dressed, I thought of him as sort of one of those bad-ass Rick Vaughn style guys. How wrong I was in that aspect, but the guy is still an ace.
2. Dwight Howard (NBA)
Dwight Howard is the most dominant big man in the NBA. He is quite the unique dude off the hardwood, not only does he share the “Superman” nickname with Shaq, they have similar senses of style.
1. Dwyane Wade (NBA)
Big Daddy GQ himself, D-Wade has long been thought of as the smoothest character in pro sports. No surprise that he tops this list, as nobody has been able to take the style title from #3.