SAN ANTONIO — LeBron James already had the gist of a speech to his teammates in his head, one that he hoped would precede a historic NBA Finals comeback.
“It would be in the range of, ‘Why not us?’ ” James had said Saturday. “Why not us? History is broken all the time. And obviously we know we’re against the greatest of odds.”
Too great, as it turned out, even for the game’s best player.
The San Antonio Spurs rebounded from a dismal start Sunday to bury James and the Miami Heat 104-87 in Game 5, clinching the franchise’s fifth NBA title under coach Gregg Popovich and team icon Tim Duncan.
One year after failing to close out the Heat in Game 6 of the Finals and watching Miami take the crown in seven, the Spurs blew away their foes Sunday for a surprisingly lopsided 4-1 series victory. The win denied Miami a dynasty-making third straight championship.
“We remember how it felt last year in the locker room,” Duncan said. “And we used it and built on it.”
Making their fourth consecutive appearance in the Finals, the Heat fell to 2-2 on the biggest stage during the James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh era — which now hinges on whether James will opt out of the final year of his contract this summer.
The Heat didn’t look ready for it to end in the first quarter, racing out to a 22-6 lead to open the game.
It didn’t last. By the end of the first half, the Spurs had weathered the storm, taking a 47-40 lead into the locker room on the strength of a late 14-0 run.
Emerging star Kawhi Leonard led the host Spurs with 22 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting. Manu Ginobli scored 19 and Duncan finished with 14 in what could possibly be his final NBA game.
James did his part for the reeling Heat, recording a double-double with a game-high 31 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
But in an all-too-familiar script for Miami, King James got little help. Wade and Bosh finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively, and no other Heat player scored more than nine.
The Spurs, meanwhile, continued to be buoyed by their bench. Sharpshooting guard Patty Mills hit 5-of-8 three-pointers for 17 points as San Antonio shot just under 50 percent from behind the arc as a team.