LeBron earns elusive first ring as Heat routs Thunder to win NBA title
MIAMI -- LeBron James didn't want to take his talents back to Oklahoma City. When he took them to South Beach two years ago, it was in hopes of finally winning an NBA championship, and he completed that mission Thursday night.
James played brilliantly, finishing with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, and made sure the Heat closed out the Thunder at home in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, 121-106.
"I dreamed about this opportunity and this moment for a long time," James said. "My dream has become a reality now, and it's the best feeling I ever had."
After James got to Miami and joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he said they would win "multiple championships." The Heat could be on its way after dispatching the Thunder by winning the last four games of this series.
It was Miami's second championship in the last six years and James' first in his already storied nine-year career. The regular-season MVP also was named Finals MVP after his triple-double in the title-clinching game.
"It's about damn time," he said after all the confetti and chants of "M-V-P" poured down on him. "It's about damn time. This is the happiest day of my life."
James reached the Finals with Cleveland in 2007 but the Cavaliers were swept by San Antonio. Last year, he led Miami to the championship round, and the Heat lost in six to Dallas. James was saddled with the reputation of someone who can't close.
But James dispelled that this postseason and this series. He averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists against the Thunder. The leg cramps that kept him on the bench at the end of Game 4 clearly were not a factor in Game 5.
"You could just tell he was very focused from the start of the season," Kevin Durant said. "It was a storybook season for him."
The Heat got big performances from the rest of the Big Three. Bosh had 24 points as he won his first NBA crown, and Wade, now a two-time champion, scored 20. Mike Miller, whose back troubles could end his career, was a pleasant surprise. He had 23 off the bench and shot 7-for-8 from three-point range.
The Heat, which outscored Oklahoma City 26-8 in the last seven minutes of the third, shot 14-for-26 from beyond the arc in the game and put away the Thunder with relative ease.
Durant, the NBA's leading scorer, had 32 points and 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook had 19 points but shot 4-for-20.
James became public enemy No. 1 around the NBA for the way he left Cleveland, "The Decision" and for boasting that Miami would win "multiple championships" two summers ago.
He had been cast in the role of a villain and someone who isn't clutch. Not anymore.
"I'm so happy for him," Wade said. "I know what he went through to get to this point and I know when we got together, a lot of people didn't agree with it. But me and him did. Me and him wanted it. We wanted to play together because we knew we could help each other get what we want, and that's to become a champion."
That was the only thing on James' mind from the start of this season and this game. And his teammates joined James in the pursuit of greatness.
The Heat used a 19-4 run in the second quarter to open a 53-36 lead. The Thunder charged back to get within 61-56 early in the third. But Miami regained a double-digit lead after James assisted on back-to-back three-pointers by Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier that made it 67-56.
James and the Heat continued attacking and used a 21-2 run to build a 93-65 lead in the third. At that point, he was well on his way to the championship that had eluded him.
"I'm happy now that nine years later since I've been drafted that I can finally say that I'm a champion and I did it the right way," James said. "I didn't shortcut anything. I put a lot of hard work and dedication in it and hard work pays off. It's a great moment for myself."