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Sports interns reflect on Spurs celebration coverage

SAN ANTONIO – After the San Antonio Spurs wrapped up their fifth NBA championship by defeating the Miami Heat in five games, the celebration to follow was sure to be spectacular. The KSAT sports interns played a vital role in the coverage of the river parade, the celebration at the Alamodome and more. They reflected on their experiences in the essays below.

Tyler Stevenson

Once the Spurs drive for five was complete, the only thing left to do was celebrate. It'd been seven long years since the last River Walk parade, and Spurs fans were exited to come out and show love to the champs.

The Spurs celebration was such a big story that the entire news day revolved around it. KSAT covered the parade live, and assigned numerous reporters to different areas of the River Walk so they could interact with fans or talk about their vantage point as the players floated by. I was assigned to go out with sports director Greg Simmons and anchor Steve Spriester to the Arneson Theatre section, where they were going to anchor the coverage. As we drove to the River Walk, the street was covered with fans in Spurs apparel rushing to get a seat along the river walk. Considering the parade wasn't going to begin for another three hours and it was over 90 degrees outside, I was surprised at how many fans were already flooding downtown. However, this was nothing compared to what the final turnout would be.

As Steve, Greg and I made our way to the top section of Arneson, I noticed several other local news stations in the same area where Greg and Steve would anchor the coverage. There wasn't that much space in the section, but somehow we were able to squeeze in more than a dozen people, a few chairs, cameras and other large pieces of production equipment. The combination of the heat and the other local news teams squeezed together certainly didn't make things comfortable, but Greg and Steve worked through the situation like it was the easiest thing in the world. Even when the crowd poured in and the cheering was very loud, Steve and Greg didn't seem fazed at all. What surprised me the most was that even though they didn't have a teleprompter, they spoke smoothly and confidently despite all the noise surrounding them. I don't even remember hearing them stumble through any sentences.

The parade lasted about an hour and it was reported that more than 100,000 people showed up just to wave at their favorite players as they slowly floated by. The Spurs parade was fun, but the celebration was far from over.

After the parade ended, we drove over to the Alamodome for the pep rally. The entire stadium was packed, and I couldn't help but laugh as we walked through the building and people shouted at Steve, "HEY, AREN'T YOU STEVE SPRIESTER!?" Once we made it to the press box, we joined the other anchor Ursula Pari who assisted Steve and Greg with covering the pep rally. I got a really good look at the crowd from the press box and every seat was full. I could feel the energy in the building, and the fans went into a full frenzy when the Spurs' mascot came out and enticed them into chanting "Go Spurs Go."  The roar of the building was deafening, but once again, Steve, Greg and Ursula were undistracted and talked like they were the only three people in the building. Overall, more than 60,000 people came out to celebrate with the team, listen to Patty Mills tell funny stories about his teammates and give one last standing ovation to the Big Three. It was a great night to be a Spurs fan.

In the end, it was a long day and covering the celebration required a lot more work than I anticipated. However, I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating with the fans and loved witnessing how much love there is between the city and the Spurs.

Danielle VanDeWalle

Let the celebration begin! Any accomplishment that happens in San Antonio is another reason to celebrate and bring the community together. With the Spurs being the center of a lot of celebrations here and a big part of San Antonians' hearts, winning a fifth NBA Championship was more of a reason to celebrate. San Antonio made sure the Spurs got all of the recognition they deserved.

The celebration started with a barge parade down the San Antonio River and ended at the Alamodome for an after-party. This year was not just another dinner on the River Walk, jumping up and down trying to catch a glimpse of Tony Parker's head, and sitting in two hours of traffic. Rather, I received a "backstage" experience.

Any opportunity I have to leave the station is always taken. I love interacting with people and experiencing the environment, so when Daniel Villanueva, the sports producer, told me I was going to the parade I couldn't have been happier. Considering the Spurs hadn't won a Championship since 2007, this celebration was long overdue and anticipated.

Not knowing what I was going to do on the day of the parade, I walked in with eagerness. Daniel told me that I was going to go to Club Giraud with David Sears. Unaware of this place, I just assumed that it was a club and was a little confused as to why the Spurs would be at a club. When we got there, I was completely taken aback to find out that it was not a club, but in fact, a really nice restaurant at the end of the river. The barges docked here and the players were served a pretty decent meal (shrimp and sirloin) before they headed over to the Alamodome.

We got there about three hours before the parade started so we could set up. Walking in the door, I looked to my left and saw where NBA TV was setting up. Although there was no one "famous" in the room yet, I felt star-struck.  I'm used to watching it from the lounging-on-my-couch viewpoint, but for once I was able to get that "backstage" feel for the show and see what happens behind the camera.

The manager walked us through the restaurant and took us outside to the back, which overlooked the river where the barges docked. We set the camera in the place where the interviews would take place and David shot a couple of standups for the 5 o'clock show. When that was all done, there was about two hours before the parade started so we went back to the live truck and saved ourselves from the 95 degree weather. In just an hour, downtown went from a ghost town to a place filled with silver and black.

Even though I wasn't able to watch the actual parade live, David and I were watching it on his phone thanks to KSAT, who was airing the whole parade live. When the parade started, we headed back into Club Giraud, where more media and workers were lined up, ready for the players. It was easy to tell if a barge was approaching because you could hear the cheers of the fans become louder, meaning the players were making their way down the river. There were about 24 barges with two players on each, along with friends and family.

The first barge to arrive was Tony Parker and the first Championship trophy. Tony walked right over to where the news stations had set up and did an interview for a few minutes. Being less than two feet away from Tony and seeing my reflection in the trophy, I was trying to contain my excitement and keep my cool. As the barges started docking continually, Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard also did interviews. Once all of the players arrived, the restaurant was filled. Tim Duncan carried in the 2014 trophy, and placed it on a highly secure table with the rest of the four trophies. However, the trophies were only there long enough for a few players to take a picture with them and then they were taken away to the Alamo Dome.

Not only was the actual experience unforgettable, but I got a chance to see the players in a different light. I saw Tim Duncan interacting with his kids, Tony Parker carrying on a casual French conversation with his friends, and Kawhi Leonard's mom trying to get a food stain off of his shirt. That was a side I had never seen and one that I feel rarely gets portrayed. I am lucky to have this internship, but especially lucky to have it during a Championship win. The knowledge I gained while working throughout the NBA playoffs will be beneficial to me in so many ways and I am blessed to be a part of company that gives me the opportunity to receive this knowledge.