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Spurs take NBA championship victory lap on San Antonio waterway

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A crowd estimated at more than 100,000 people lined San Antonio's River Walk to cheer from balconies, blow horns and chant "Go Spurs go" on Wednesday to celebrate the team's National Basketball Association championship.

San Antonio Spurs players floated on barges along the city's downtown waterway, which is lined with shops and restaurants and on Wednesday was packed with fans wearing the team's silver and black colors.

"This is awesome," said Jason Menendez, dressed from head to toe in Spurs gear. 

The Spurs delivered a decisive end to the Miami Heat's two-year reign atop the basketball world by routing LeBron James and his teammates on Sunday in San Antonio to win the NBA Finals four games to one. It was the Spurs' fifth championship in 15 years.

It was also the fifth championship party in San Antonio for the Spurs' laconic head coach Gregg Popovich, who said the parade is "hot and sweaty but a lot of fun for the whole city."

"It's the culmination of what we have tried to do and what the city has hoped for," Popovich said before the parade. 

Two dozen barges decorated in silver and black carried the players, their families, coaches, team executives, city officials and the championship trophy past screaming fans.

"The French connection," Spurs guard Tony Parker bellowed to the crowd from the barge he was riding with his fellow veteran of the French basketball league, Boris Diaw.

Several companies closed early to let employees attend the parade, which received global attention due to the international make-up of the Spurs, who have eight players on their current roster born outside of the United States.

"I want to do it again next year," player Danny Green told the crowd.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)

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