LEBRON James formalized his coronation as champion on Friday as the Miami Heat scored a runaway 121-106 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder and clinched the NBA title at the rocking American Airlines Arena.
Two years after abandoning the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Heat in one of the most despised acts ever in sports history, everything seemed to have been forgiven as James delivered as promised, giving the franchise its second championship in six years.
But this one is LeBron’s breakthrough title nine years after barging to the league as a high school phenom out of St Mary-St. Vincent High School, and first ever following two previous trips to the Finals.
"It means everything," James said after the Heat wrapped up the best-of-seven series, 4-1 with a sweep of the three middle games at home.
James was simply majestic in Game Five, coming through with a triple double of 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists and was named Finals MVP of the lockout-shortened season. He averaged an amazing 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists in the series.
Amidst chants of MVP! MVP! MVP! from the crowd, James was pulled out of the game for good with the Heat on top, 118-96, with 3:01 left to play. His teammates met him with high fives, and then engaged close buddy Dwayne Wade in a tight bear hug as the celebration at the Heat bench began.
Wade, the Finals MVP when the Heat won their first title in 2006, had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Chris Bosh added 20 and seven as Miami’s Big Three won for the first of what they promised would be multiple championships for the Heat since coming together in 2010.
It was also the first title for Fil-Am coach Erik Spoelstra, a year after getting the heat from Miami fans following the team’s stunning loss against the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals. He becomes the first man with Filipino lineage to win an NBA championship.
For all of the Big Three’s brilliance, the Heat wouldn’t have pulled this one out without help from their much-maligned bench.
Mike Miller shrugged off a series of injuries and scored 23 points in 23 minutes, including a near-perfect seven-for-eight shooting from three-point range. He was flawless from the same spot in the first half, firing four-for-four as the Heat led, 59-49.
Miller’s hot shooting from the outside helped spark a big Miami run in the third to break the game wide open. A completed three-point play by Wade gave the Heat a commanding 93-67 lead as the quarter came to an end.
In all, the Heat outscored the Thunder, 36-22, in the third quarter.
Kevin Durant finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds in his first Finals try, but committed seven of the Thunder’s 13 turnovers.
Oklahoma won Game One of the series, but lost the next four, including three straight on the road.