Hate the Heat all you want but this year’s team did it the right way.
Hate LeBron James all you want but there is absolutely no need to be a fan. One simply needs to recognize when hard work and talent finally met greatness. What the man dubbed as “The King” did in the 2012 season of the NBA simply merits recognition and not just devotion. Because at the end of the day, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Miami Heat finally did it.
And it was earned, not easily given.
Such was the reoccurring theme of the 2012 NBA Finals, which LeBron and the rest of the Heat wrapped up in five games, following their crushing 121-106, win over Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the young guns of the Oklahoma Thunder.
In truth, it was not supposed to end this way, especially not in such dominating fashion wherein they swept all three games at home including four straight after the Thunder opened the series with a 105-94 win. After that, pundits were saying that this was going to be a short series and that Durant, Westbrook along with Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, were the new toast of the town, a team built on the principles of hard work and selflessness.
However, what was more apparent as the series progressed was that the Heat were more in tune with those attributes more than the Thunder themselves. In fact, the Heat became the first team in league history to win the crown after trailing in each of the last three series. Miami came back from a 1-2 deficit to the Indiana Pacers; a 2-3 deficit to the Boston Celtics, a predicament wherein James put the Heat on his back and scored 45 points to extend the series and eventually, claim the Eastern Conference title in seven games; and finally, a 0-1 deficit to the Thunder.
And for all the criticisms that James, Bosh and Wade has received since joining together in 2010, it was clear as day, most especially to them that they needed one another and more to claim such a feat. There was Mike Miller and his seven three-pointers in Game 5. There was Mario Chalmers and his 25 points in Game 4, including five in the last minute that sealed the deal when LeBron went down with cramps to his thighs. There was Shane Battier, who picked the perfect time to emulate Ray Allen and drain 15 treys in this series.
Truth is, the Heat needed every lesson that they learned from their heartbreaking loss in the finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks to get them over the hump. And the biggest student of them all was James himself, who became an even bigger man by admitting that his losses allowed him gains.
“Losing the finals last year put me back in place, it humbled me a lot,” said James in his post-game press conference.
Fitting though, that the man much maligned for “Quitness” during his Cleveland Cavaliers days, for “The Decision” and his transfer to the Heat and for choking in the 2011 NBA Finals over and over again, led the Heat to the promised land and appeared to fulfill the greatness that many predicted him to have since entering the league in 2003.
The best thing about all of it was that LeBron never danced, he never showed any disrespect in spite of the fact that they were leading by more than 20 already in the fourth, a virtue that many pegged him not to have with his alleged “bratty” reputation; he did not shrink in the face of the enormous pressure that mounted in every series. Rather, James embraced it with all his might and delivered one of the game’s all time postseason runs to the tune of 28.6 points per game in the finals.
He also scored at least 25 points or more in a record 15-straight postseason games. Add to that that his finals MVP is the 14th time a player has won both the regular season and NBA finals MVP in the same season. In game four, James also became the first player in NBA with at least 650 points, 200 rebounds and 100 assists in the playoffs.
After so many disappointing ends, summers of discontent, falls of hope, winters of expectation and springs of missed opportunities, James did it and more importantly, he did it with honor.
"I did it the right way; I didn't short-cut anything," James said in an article that was posted on ESPN.com "It's the hardest thing I've ever done."
The Thunder will have their day soon. Durant is a superstar of the highest order. Not now though. This was the Miami Heat’s time. This was LeBron James’ moment. The King has finally been crowned.
Photos' Source: CNN Sports Illustrated
Jonas Rey N. Panerio
iSTORYAn League of Writers- Sports
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