Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) sits on the bench at the end of the game against the San Antonio Spurs. Photo by Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
SAN ANTONIO -- Minutes after the Miami Heat were beaten in the NBA Finals in a Game 5 rout, LeBron James conceded the San Antonio Spurs were simply a better team.
"That's how team basketball should be played," James told reporters after the 104-87 drubbing on Sunday that closed out the series and gave the Spurs their fifth championship.
"You know, it's selfless. Guys move, cut, pass, you've got a shot, you take it, but it's all for the team and it's never about the individual. That's the brand of basketball.
"They were the much better team."
No one disputes that James is the best player in the world but the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player had little help against San Antonio.
He scored 31 points, had 10 rebounds and five assists on Sunday, leading the Heat in each category while the other components of the Heat's "Big Three," Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, were ineffective.
Wade scored 11 points on four of 12 shooting, while Bosh totaled 13 points on six of 14.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra even had James play point guard because Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were unproductive though the move failed to generate any heat and even created some chaos at times.
"When you're in a series like this and it's not going your way, we all get frustrated," said Spoelstra.
"But L.J. and I communicated the entire game because he had to play the point guard for us.
"So we were trying to get on the same page about play calls and making sure everybody was organized. We just came up short."
James said the Heat will need to get better to keep pace with the Spurs.
San Antonio and Miami split the first two games of the series but the Spurs blitzed the Heat in each of the next three to claim the title.
"Obviously we would need to get better from every facet, every position," he said. "It's just how the league works. The Spurs continue to get better.
"They kept those three guys intact, but they continue to put guys around them, high-basketball-IQ guys around them, high-energy guys around them that fit into the system of what Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) wanted to do."
James scored 17 points in the opening quarter on Sunday, more than any of his team mates scored the entire game. Miami also held a 16-point first quarter lead at one point but it soon fizzled.
"Started off very well as a team," he said. "We had a great first quarter. But from that point on, they were the better team, and that's why they're the champions in 2014."