Victory in Game 7 brought more than another crown for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. It validated the team and its leader, forever cementing their place among the NBA’s greats.
For the vanquished San Antonio Spurs, it simply compounded the misery of a championship that got away.
James led the Heat to their second straight title, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 95-88 victory Thursday night in a tense game that was tight until Miami pulled away in the final minute.
Capping their best season in franchise history - and perhaps the three-superstar system they used to build it - the Heat ran off with the second straight thriller in the NBA’s first championship series to go the distance since 2010.
Two nights after his Game 6 save when the Heat were almost eliminated, James continued his unparalleled run through the basketball world, with two titles and an Olympic gold medal in the last 12 months.
”I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason,” said James, who was MVP for the second straight finals. ”I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”
He made five 3-pointers, defended Tony Parker when he had to, and did everything else that could ever be expected from the best player in the game.
The Heat became the NBA’s first repeat champions since the Lakers in 2009-10, and the first team to beat the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Duncan had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, but missed a shot and follow attempt right under the basket with about 50 seconds left and the Spurs trailing by two…
Wade had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who overcame a scoreless Chris Bosh by getting six 3-pointers and 18 points from Shane Battier…
Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Spurs, who had been 4 for 4 in the championship round. Ginobili had 18 points but Parker managed just 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting…
Game 6 could have shaken the Spurs, who were so close to holding the trophy that officials were preparing the championship presentation before Miami’s rally. The Spurs held a team dinner late that night, figuring the company was better than having to dwell on the defeat alone in their rooms.
Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press