Due to a busy schedule (and a limited knowledge of the topic at hand), I’ve handed the NBA Finals duties over to my blogging buddy, Steven Jeffries. Be sure to check out more sports write-ups from Steven.
The outcome never really seemed to be in doubt. It became apparent early on that the Heat had come to American Airlines Arena to shut down the Thunder. And, not only did they shut them down, they completely blew them away …
After seven seasons with Cleveland, LeBron James couldn’t see an NBA championship coming anytime soon. So, he packed his bags, and, followed by a chorus of boos and ill-wishes, he left the Cavs for the promising outlook in Miami.
He was the third part of the three-man “dream team.” He was to complete the package, creating the team which would deliver “…not one, not two, not three, etc.” championships.
However, the Heat didn’t produce immediately. The boisterous guarantees of those NBA trophies didn’t materialize in 2010, and James received the primary blame.
He began to be perceived as the “guy to hate,” a braggart who was unable to deliver in the big games.
And then, we all arrived at that moment — Thursday night, June 21, 2012, in South Beach.
James and his teammates had a completely different look in their eyes. There was a determination, an unyielding-ness which wasn’t there before, and it transcended fear or failure. It was Miami’s time, it was their night. It was time to “come full-circle.” This was their NBA Finals trophy to take home … and they would leave no doubt about it!
The entire team seemed to carry the same kind of absolute will to win. Everyone was just as focused as LeBron James — a team ready to make Thursday night happen! And the final score of 121-106 reflected the magnanimous effort put forth by Miami.
A happy and relieved James had these comments after the biggest win of his career: “It means everything. I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland but I understood what my future was about … I knew we had a bright future (in Miami). This is a dream come true for me … (it is) the happiest day of my life.”
But it wasn’t happiness or a “dream’s desire” that fueled LeBron James Thursday night, it was hatred. He was tired of the labels that had been placed on him, deservedly or otherwise. He was called a “choker,” someone who “came up short,” the guy who “shrank” in the crucial moments. But this year, James was out to prove them so very wrong.
Of course every eye was on him. However, this time he came through. But it was not just James alone, it was also his “supporting cast” who provided the breakout, especially in the third quarter, which propelled the Heat to such a convincing win and ultimately, the NBA championship.
Leading by just 10 points at the break, the Thunder actually closed to within three points of tying the game in the third quarter. But a turnover by OKC would lead to two consecutive three-pointers, putting the Heat back up by nine. From that moment on, the Thunder seemed to lose their will, as perhaps frustration finally started to produce thoughts of failure and defeat.
Miami would use a cast of players who popped in 14 three-pointers, tying an NBA Finals record. They attacked Oklahoma City in every way, from the perimeter to the paint, from rebounds to transition, dealing out a thorough “beat-down” on the youngsters who had won the West.
In all, the Heat had six players in double-figures, four with 20 or more points. LeBron James had a triple-double with 26 points, 11 boards and 13 assists. Chris Bosh tossed in 24 points with seven rebounds. Mike Miller played just 23 minutes, but knocked down 23 points on 7-11 from the floor. All seven shots he made were three-pointers.
Dwyane Wade had a great all-around night, pouring in 20 points with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocked shots. Shane Battier added 11 including three more three-pointers, and Mario Chalmers chipped in 10 along with seven assists. The Heat shot 52 percent from the floor, 54 percent from three-point range, and 82 percent from the stripe.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant’s effort was certainly lost in the elation in Miami. He scored 32 points with 11 boards, but did turn the ball over seven times. Russell Westbrook pitched in 19 points with six assists. James Harden had a better night, but still looked “off” a bit. He did score 19 points with five assists, and Derek Fisher had 11 points in 29 minutes of play.
And so the Miami Heat have finally done it — they are the NBA’s best for 2012. But now, there is one question which will undoubtedly continue to be debated:
Has LeBron James finally proved himself as that truly-consummate player or will he still be maligned as the guy people “love to hate” for whatever reason?
We’ll see what the days ahead bring.