Spurs’ Gregg Popovich offers hugs to Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade
MIAMI — He might be ornery on the podium and play by his own rules sometimes, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a classy competitor through and through.
After Miami defeated San Antonio 95-88 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, Popovich sought out Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to offer congratulatory hugs.
“I want to congratulate the Heat on another championship,” Popovich said. “Mr. [Micky] Arison, Pat Riley, Erik [Spoelstra], his staff, their players deserve congratulations. It was a tough grind to get through the NBA playoffs. … They did a great job. Great crew. I’m happy for them.”
Tim Duncan added: “LeBron was unbelievable, Dwyane was great.”
James finished with a game-high 37 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, winning his second title and receiving his second straight Finals MVP award. Wade added 23 points and 10 rebounds, capturing his third title.
The mutual admiration between the teams was in full effect.
“Give a lot of credit … to the San Antonio Spurs,” James said. “First-class organization, first-class players.”
Wade told reporters that he made a point of exchanging postgame messages with Duncan and that he thanked Popovich.
“You see I ran to [Duncan],” Wade said. “He’s one of the greatest of all time. It’s an honor to be able to go through this battle against him. … I wanted to congratulate him and thank him for being the competitor that he is. I’ve known [Popovich] since 2004 when we went to the Olympics. I went to thank him. Pop told me, ‘You [were] Dwyane Wade tonight, LeBron James was LeBron James. When y’all are that way, it’s hard to beat you.’”
Spoelstra, the Heat coach, also offered a message to the Spurs.
“Absolute respect and our hats go off to the San Antonio Spurs,” he said. “A class organization, a championship organization. We have as much respect for them as anybody in the league. That was the toughest series we’ve been in.”