It’s been the one thing holding him back, the one thing preventing his claim as an all-time great in the eyes of the public. I didn’t need the validation, but it certainly didn’t weaken my stance.
On June 21st 2012, LeBron James won his first NBA Championship as he messed around and got a triple double, posting a ridiculous stat line of 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. He didn’t do it alone, though. Mike Miller (!!!) limped onto the court and canned 7 of 8 3-pointers en route to a surprising 23 point game. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade didn’t shy away from the spotlight either as Wade scored 20 points and hauled in 8 rebounds, while Bosh tallied 24 and 7. With Shane Battier’s 11 points and Mario Chalmers’ 10, the Heat had a total of 6 players who scored in double figures.
The Heat scored at such an astonishing clips thanks to the flurry of open looks created by James, who did most of his damage from the post. Oklahoma City really had no choice but to double James in the post, but unfortunately for them, James’ vision and passing ability is off the charts, and he put it on full display as he racked up 25 assists in the final 2 games of the series (since they started doubling in the post). The puzzling Scott Brooks decision to keep James Harden on LeBron, even if they doubled him, was one that will likely be heavily scrutinized by the press. Not only is Harden much smaller and weaker, but he’s never been a solid post defender.
Watching James demolish the post and attract double teams was reminiscent of the 2009 Magic-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals. That time, however, LeBron was playing the role of Kevin Durant as he watched Dwight Howard suck in defenders only to kick it to the wing, filled with absolutely unconscious shooters. Like the Magic in 2009, Miami’s role players could not miss from deep throughout the entire series. The Heat got key contributions from role players in each 5 games of the NBA Finals: 17 points from Battier in games 1 and 2, a combined 21 points from Udonis Haslem, Battier, and James Jones in game 3, 25 points from Chalmers in game 4, and a combined 44 points from Battier, Chalmers, and Mike Miller in Game 5.
While Kevin Durant scored 32 points in the loss, the early energy from Serge Ibaka is what kept this game from getting out of hand before half-time. He came out with 2 quick blocks and a few put-backs as the Thunder weathered the early Miami storm. Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and Kendrick Perkins chipped in a surprising 10, but unfortunately for the Thunder, nothing was going to stop LeBron James on his night.
LeBron’s first words to the public after winning the title? “It’s about damn time.”
He’s been waiting a long time for a champagne shower, and he got one on Thursday night as he silenced all the critics and hoisted both the Larry O’Brien and the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy.
Congratulations to the 2012 NBA Champions, the Miami Heat.
Tags: 2012 NBA Finals Bill Russell Chris Bosh Cleveland Cavaliers Dwight Howard James Harden James Jones Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant LeBron James Miami Heat Mike Miller Oklahoma City Thunder Orlando Magic Russell Westbrook Serge Ibaka Shane Battier Udonis Haslem