Miami Heat Win Championship, King Has A Crown
It was the first championship for LeBron James. The Heat superstar finished his last game of the season with a triple-double, his second of the Finals. The league MVP and NBA Finals MVP finished Game 5 with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. That is a hell of a stat line for the man nicknamed "King." Now the "King" can finally wear a championship crown.
"It means everything," said James when asked what the title meant to him. "It's a dream come true for me. I'm happy that this dream has become a reality."
It hasn't been easy for James. He has been (and will continue to be) the center of many sports fans' disdain. From "The Decision," to his reluctant play in last year's Finals defeat, James had to reevaluate his game last offseason.
"After last year, I just went back to the basics," said James. "Last year I felt like I had to prove everybody wrong. I was humbled in the finals last year. It took me to rock bottom. I had to get back to having fun, and playing the game I love."
LeBron seemed to be having fun as the clock ticked down. James checked out of the game at the 3:01 mark with his "Big Three" partners, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami cruised to victory in Game 5, the first game of the Finals that was not competitive. Wade had 20 points and 8 rebounds, while Bosh finished with 24 and 7.
The Heat showered their head coach Erik Spoelstra with gatorade shortly after the clock struck 0:00. Spoelstra was an assistant coach for Miami during the 2006 run, but as he said after winning the 2012 championship, it's different when you're the head coach.
"A lot more pressure. A lot more grey hairs. But this one was so gratifying," explained Spoelstra. "We kept saying all year long that it would be the toughest thing we'd have to do in our professional lives to get back here and get those 4 wins."
The X-Factor of Game 5 was Mike Miller. The 12 year veteran won his first NBA Title, and did so in a magnificent performance. Miller had no hit a single 3 pointer in the Finals before Thursday night. He hit 7 in game 5, the most 3 pointers by a non-starter in NBA Finals history. 23 points and 5 rebounds is an impressive stat line for a role player who had not made much of an impact in the first 4 games of the Finals.
"They were agressively guarding LeBron and D-Wade obviously," explained Miller. "I had an opportunity to let it fly and enjoy it." Heat fans certainly enjoyed it too. "We're champs," said Miller. "That's all that matters."
Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant played another great game, even in the lopsided defeat. 32 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block marks the final stat line of Durant's season. The 23 year old scoring champion was emotional after the loss. After congratulating all members of the Miami Heat and their staff, the Thunder All-Star forward left the court and embraced his Mother, breaking down in tears.
After an incredible Game 4, Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook struggled in Game 5. A 4-20 performance from the field hurt OKC's chances of competing. 6th Man of the Year James Harden had a better performance than his previous 4, but his 19 points and 5 assists were too little too late.
"We didn't get it done this year. We've got a lot of work to do," Thunder coach Scott Brooks told his team in their final huddle. "There's no way any of you guys should keep your head down. Keep it up. Keep doing what you've done. Build yourself up this summer and get better. That's what we're about. We're about being together. We're about playing for each other. And we're about staying together as a family."
If they do stay together, the Thunder will have a great opportunity at redemption next season.
But Thursday night belongs to the Miami Heat. They played like champions. Now they are.