SAN ANTONIO, June 15 (AP) -- Waving signs and wearing black, silver and white, hundreds of fans gathered at the airport in sweltering heat Friday to greet the returning Spurs and celebrate the San Antonio's fourth NBA championship.

Screaming "Go, Spurs, Go'' as the team arrived, fans rallied by the Coyote mascot and cheerleaders. The three previous NBA championship trophies on display were joined by the newest, carried by Tim Duncan, the only Spurs player to be a member of all four championships.

After getting off the plane, Bruce Bowen led the crowd in a cheer.

"This is all for you. We appreciate all your support during the season,'' he said.

Packed near a makeshift stage on the back of a flatbed truck, some fans waited as long as three hours in 90-degree heat for the team's chartered flight. Several players videotaped and photographed the fans, who cheered and photographed right back.

"It never gets old,'' said Teresa Rehfeld, a 44-year-old receptionist.

Her boss - a fan of the Dallas Mavericks, an early favorite bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Golden State - was a good sport and gave her the day off to attend the Spurs celebration, she said.

She arrived on one of the first buses to the rally, sweating for hours in her Spurs T-shirt while she awaited the team's arrival from Cleveland after their 4-0 sweep of the Cavaliers.

"Our guys were just there, and they do it consistently,'' Rehfeld said of the relatively easy road to the championship.

In a city with no other major league teams, the Spurs are it. Cars all over the city have Spurs flags fluttering from their windows. Doorsteps are festooned with black and silver banners.

San Antonio's other championships came in 1999, 2003 and 2005, but fans standing and sweating for hours to catch a glimpse of the team said the victory this year was still a thrill.

"The fourth is just like the first. It's just as exciting,'' said Darlene Chavez, a 42-year-old teacher.

She showed up to the rally Friday wearing homemade earrings bearing the likeliness of Bowen and Tony Parker. Her black cowboy hat had the rest of the starting lineup.

She faithfully followed the Spurs' play in the regular season and through the championship series. Chavez said cheering their homecoming Friday was her way of sticking with the team.

"I've been following the Spurs since the first game. I started with them from the beginning. I'm staying with them to the end,'' she said.

Finals MVP Tony Parker also addressed the happy horde.

"I always say you're the best fans in the NBA,'' he said. "It was a great, great journey.''


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