With his first triple-double of the season, LeBron James capped off an NBA Finals that will go down as one of the best of all time.
Averaging 28.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, James put his Miami Heat team on his back in the Finals to deliver the team's second NBA championship.
Scoring 26 points with 13 assists and 11 rebounds in Game 5, there was no doubt at all that James would win the series MVP.
"It's about damn time," he said after the game as the tremendous promise James has shown throughout his career was finally fulfilled with a ring and a trophy.
When James announced he was "taking his talents to South Beach" in the summer of 2010, Heat fans expected a title right away. James and the Heat made the NBA Finals in the Big Three's first season together, but he shrunk in the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, averaging an un-LeBron-like 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
James put that behind him in the 2012 playoffs, though. He and the Heat came back to win three straight series in which they fell behind, something no team had ever done before. Trailing 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to Indiana, James scored 40 points in Game 4 to even the series. Then, facing elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, James erupted for 45 points and 15 rebounds against the Celtics, saving the Heat's season again.
But James saved his best for the Finals. In Game 2, he helped even the series at 1-1 with 31 points. His go-ahead three-pointer in Game 4 came despite being hobbled by leg cramps. And James assisted on 8 different three-pointers in the deciding Game 5, punishing Oklahoma City for double- and triple-teaming him in the paint.
More importantly, James made an impact in the fourth quarters of the Finals. In clutch situations in the Finals (score within 5 points during the last 5 minutes), James scored 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting, with the Heat outscoring the Thunder by 16 points in 11 minutes. That is a far cry from 2011, when James did not score a single point in 18 minutes of clutch time.
"It means everything," James said after Game 5. "This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off."
There are so many story lines on this Heat team, from Chris Bosh getting some redemption of his own, to the maturation of Mario Chalmers, to coach Erik Spoelstra proving his doubters wrong. But when the 2012 Finals are recorded in the proverbial history books, it will be the coronation of King James that takes top-billing.
From the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old to his post-Decision nadir in the 2011 Finals, James' journey to the mountaintop, alongside all those other NBA greats with championship rings, is complete.