Two years after LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh promised to bring an NBA championship to Miami, they delivered: The Miami Heat are NBA champions.
The Heat topped the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, capping off a 4-1 series victory to give the franchise its second NBA title. And Miami's Big Three are a big reason why -- all three players scored more than 20 points in the decisive game.
But it was James, who was much maligned nationally when he left his hometown Cleveland to come to Miami, who stole the show. On the biggest night of his young career, James delivered a triple-double, scoring 26 points with 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lock up his first Finals MVP award.
Eight of his 13 assists were converted for 3-pointers. The Heat shot a mind-boggling 14 of 25 from downtown, tying the record for 3-pointers in a Finals game.
"It means everything," James said moments after the win. "I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland but I understood what my future was about ... I knew we had a bright future (in Miami). This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off."
Wade scored 20 points with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. Bosh notched 24 points and 7 rebounds. But while the Big Three put up big numbers as usual, so did their supporting cast, combining for 51 points.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Heat, including 23 points from Mike Miller. Still dealing with back issues, Miller hit 7 of 8 3-pointers after missing all three of his 3-point attempts in Games 1-4. No one has ever hit as many threes coming off the bench in a Finals game. Shane Battier scored 11, and Mario Chalmers scored 10.
“Thank you for your patience," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the home crowd while the team was accepting the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the game. "We remember last year, we wanted to make up for it."
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 32 points and 11 rebounds, but could not pull his team to victory. Russell Westbrook followed up his 43-point Game 4 performance with a disappointing outing, scoring 19 points on 4 of 20 shooting.
The Heat outscored the Thunder in each of the first three quarters, with the game getting out of hand midway through the third quarter. From the start it was clear that the Heat were determined to use its entire scoring arsenal. Seven players scored in the first quarter as the Heat built a 31-26 lead. By halftime, the Heat were up by ten points, having shot 55 percent from the field and 7 of 13 from 3-point range.
Whereas Miami seemed to score at will, OKC struggled to put points on the board. The Thunder shot just 37 percent in the first half, and were it not for the fact that they shot 17 of 18 from the free throw line, the Thunder's halftime deficit would have been much worse.
James led all scorers with 15 at halftime, adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Miller had 12 points and Bosh had 10. Durant scored 14 points, while Westbrook had 13.
Oklahoma City scored 5 quick points to open the third quarter and pull within 5, but that was the closest they would get to a comeback. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Chalmers and Battier put an end to that rally, and the Heat would score 36 points in the third quarter to push the Thunder to the brink.
Oklahoma City seemed to fall apart, giving up wide-open looks behind the 3-point line and allowing easy buckets in the paint on defense, and getting shots blocked on the offensive end. The home crowd was smelling blood in the water by the time the fourth quarter started.
With 3:00 left in fourth quarter and the Heat up by 19 points, the Big Three left the floor to a standing ovation from the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd. James, Wade, and the rest of the Heat bench could begin celebrating while the victory formation of Norris Cole, James Jones, Terrell Harris, Juwan Howard and Ronny Turiaf finished off the victory.
With it, LeBron James and the Miami Heat are now kings of the NBA.