At long last, the king finally has his crown. LeBron James silenced his critics once and for all, amassing 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lead his Miami Heat past the Oklahoma City Thunder, 121-106, in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, capturing his first championship and the second in team history.
"It means everything," James said about the moment immediately after Miami's victory.
James captured his first ring at the age of 27, one year before Michael Jordan won his first.
All five starters for the Heat reached double digits in scoring. Chris Bosh had 24 points and seven rebounds, Dwyane Wade totaled 20 points, Shane Battier scored 11 and Mario Chalmers finished with 10 points. Mike Miller provided a tremendous spark off the bench, scoring 23 on 7-of-8 shooting from three-point range for Miami, which shot 51.9 percent.
Miami worked its lead up to nine points on several occasions late in the first quarter, and never looked back. Oklahoma City would pull within two points early in the second quarter, but the Heat brushed the run aside and expanded their lead to double digits, as many as 17, before taking a 59-49 lead into the intermission. James had 15 points, Bosh had 10 and Wade added nine points at halftime. Durant, meanwhile, finished with 14 first-half points.
Oklahoma City made one final push to start the second half, trimming its deficit to five (61-56 at 10:40), but Miami put the nail in the coffin with a statement quater, outscoring the opposition 36-22, and leading by as many as 26 points. Bosh had 12 points in the quarter and Durant had 12, but James (four points) and Wade (four points) were unheard from.
The fourth quarter was merely a formality, and the Heat ended the season with a victory.
James, Wade and Bosh will now spend some time celebrating, while the rest of the basketball world prepares for the 2012 NBA Draft, which takes place next Thursday.