The final piece fell into its place. LeBron James has been to two NBA Finals before, and lost. He has regular season MVP awards, three of them. An Olympic Gold Medal. The NBA title was all that he’s been missing. It was much easier than expected in the final game, the close out game that was supposed to have had the Miami Heat spitting blood.
It was the perfect team performance, orchestrated by a coach that took shots from every direction over the last two years. On the floor, LeBron James led the way with a Magic Johnson like performance. He didn’t take the team on his back in the final game. He finished with a triple double, scoring 26 points, adding 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Six players finished in double figures for the Heat, something almost unconcievable a few weeks ago.
LeBron James grew up this year, and especially thanks to the loss in the NBA Finals last season. A humbling experience. An experience that improved him as a player and as a person. An experience and a disappointment that pushed him to be better, and eventually pushed his team to be better.
Now he can add the NBA Finals’ MVP to his trophy cabinet. He outplayed Kevin Durant, and the way the Miami Heat played in Game 5, with perfect team basketball that got help by incredible shot making (14-26 from beyond the arc), especially from Mike Miller, with 23 points, making 7 three pointers. But it was about how James carries his team to perform. He dictates the play, and he did it perfectly in a blowout 121-106 win in Game 5. It wasn’t even that close.
All the comparisons to Kevin Durant went out the window in this series. Durant is a great scorer, but has a lot to add to his game. Defensively and in the way he takes over games. Too much Russell Westbrook stealing the focus and the attention, with a terrible 4-20 performance in his final game of the season. John Starks-like.
Hierarchy. That’s something the Heat finally figured out. LeBron James at the head of the pyramid. No longer sharing the role of best player on this team. It made things simpler. Chris Bosh knows his place. Dwyane Wade knows his place, and obviously the rest of the guys – Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, at least for the final game.
There are so many story lines, like in every big sporting events. Chris Bosh and how he came back from his injury to be the needed ingredient to propel the Heat over the Celtics and the Thunder. Spoelstra’s adjustments. The Oklahoma City Thunder collapsing after heading in as favorites and winning the first game. But LeBron James’ story line began in 2003, when he came into this league. Supposedly inhering the place of other greats – Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan. It was supposed to end with an NBA title, but it took longer than it should have.
Now, he can begin a new quest, putting everything he needed to achieve behind him. The pressure of completing the NBA’s player bucket list is over. Now he’s got the time, the confidence and the security to go out and simply push himself up the rankings of the greatest players of all time.