On the first possession of his NBA championship-clinching game five victory, LeBron James took a fast-break pass from Mario Chalmers, leapt aggressively towards the hoop and emphatically slammed the ball through the net.
James’s dunk set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Miami Heat’s unstoppable offense simply overwhelmed the Oklahoma City Thunder, propelling the Heat to an easy 121-106 victory.
James’s remarkable MVP season was capped with yet another “stat-filling” performance (26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists).
For James, finally winning an NBA championship is an emotional climax in what has been a dramatic journey since he joined the Heat in 2010.
“It means everything… I knew we had a bright future (in Miami)”, James said. “This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off.”
After a disappointing and much-criticized performance in last years NBA Finals, in which the Heat were beaten by the Mavericks in 6 games, James was practically unstoppable in this year’s Finals, averaging 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists.
James, a perennial super-star since his induction into the league eight years ago, has also become one of the biggest sports villains in recent times to many people. This is mostly due to the manner in which he left his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to come play for the Miami Heat.
Upon joining the Heat, James was also the target of ridicule for his much publicized preseason celebration, when he publicly predicted that the Heat would win “…not five, not six, not seven,” but eight or more NBA championships.
One down, seven to go.
The Miami Heat’s road to an NBA championship this year was no simple task. It took two especially grueling series against the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics as well as a couple lucky breaks, literally. The Chicago Bulls were expected to the Heat’s biggest competition in the eastern conference playoffs. However in just its first playoff game, the Bulls’s superstar Derek Rose tore his ACL, effectively killing the Bulls’s title chances and helping to clear the way for the Heat to reach the Finals.
In the Finals, the Heat faced a formidable challenge in the Oklahoma City Thunder, a young, talented team led by NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant. The popular Thunder also had the support of the majority of basketball fans. An ESPN poll, conducted shortly before the Finals series began, showed that 48 of the 50 states, including Utah, were rooting for the Thunder to win the Finals. But in the end, the Thunder’s youth and inexperience was exploited by the older, more seasoned Heat team.
Fred Nelson, a public health major from Santa Barbra, California, isn’t a fan of the Thunder, but still found reasons to cheer for them in the Finals.
“I wanted the Thunder to win for two reasons,” Nelson said. “One, because I hate the Heat. Two, because James Harden’s beard is just so chill.”
However, not every basketball fan is upset with the Heat winning the championship. Tyler Peterson, an undergraduate student from Alpine, Utah, was enthused by the Heat’s game five triumph.
“They deserved to win, they were the better team,” Peterson said. “For everything the media and public put them through they definitely proved that they were true champions,” Peterson said.