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LeBron James Silences Critics… For Now
Posted By Derek Page On June 22, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
It’s difficult to argue that LeBron James’ title clinching Game 5 box score could’ve been any more dominant considering the circumstances.
The final line from last night’s pivotal game of the NBA Finals for James: 26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, two blocks and one steal.
In one fell swoop, James handled a young and prosperous Oklahoma City Thunder squad and clinched his first NBA Title – just the second in Miami HEAT franchise history.
“It’s about damn time,” James said. “This is the happiest day of my life. This is a dream come true.”
As has been the case throughout the series, James dictated everything he wanted to do on the offensive end of the floor. When James wanted to get to the basket, which he craved and did as he pleased throughout, that’s exactly what he accomplished as jump shots were a rarity.
Miami, as a team, accounted for a total of 46 points in the paint in Game 5 and James was the leading perpetrator. Along those same lines, James’ commitment to developing his game at the power forward position, on the offensive post specifically, was a huge reason Miami was able to hold such an advantage in that department this series.
“There’s no question, we all knew that this team was built a little bit differently and we needed to absolutely embrace what some would see as unconventional,” HEAT head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We would need an inside presence to be able to play inside out. LeBron knew that as well. We were all on the same page about it. [James] dedicated the summer to develop that game and that allowed us to play like the power teams that you see with a big center, but to do it with a versatile power forward, small forward, and to be able to play inside out.
“And so people saw us as small, but we played a power game, attack the paint, inside out, play out of the post, things of that nature and LeBron was really pivotal in that.”
In the third quarter in particular, the HEAT broke away and James – yet again – was a leading culprit in the separation. Although he only scored four points, James got his teammates involved by dishing out six assists and also grabbed two rebounds as Miami pushed their lead to more than 20 points heading into the fourth quarter. This set the stage for a final frame in which the HEAT mashed on the gas to start the period, with James collecting a couple of rebounds to secure yet another playoff triple-double while earning the second title in franchise history.
“To be here, man, and see him get his first championship, I’m so happy for him,” Dwyane Wade said. “I don’t know if I could be happy for another guy, another man to succeed in life as I am for him. I know what he’s went through to get to this point and I know when we got together a lot of people didn’t agree with it but me and him did. Me and him wanted it. We wanted to play together because we knew we could help each other get what we want and that’s to become a champion once again.
“I’m proud of him,” Wade explained. “He really took being the best player in the league to another level and he did it all season long, man. Thanks to him, we’re all able to celebrate once again.”
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra says he doesn’t understand the criticism that’s been levied at LeBron in the past and believes James resembles everything that’s right in the NBA.
“You know, we’re all so proud of LeBron, and none of us understood it,” Spoelstra said. “When you get to know LeBron, you don’t understand why he was such a lightning rod for the criticism, and all of just the incessant critiques about a player who embodies all the qualities you want of a champion. I mean, first of all, you spend ten minutes with him; you absolutely love the guy because he’s so engaging.
“He’s one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever been around.”
While James carried the load offensively, there was no shortage of stellar performances from the supporting cast. Chris Bosh had 24 points on 9-14 (64 percent) shooting; Wade had 20 points (7-12 shooting), eight rebounds and three blocks; and Mike Miller nailed 7 of 8 three-pointers off the bench for a 2012 playoff-high 23 points.
“There’s no ‘I’ in team,” James said, “and to win a championship, no matter on which level, you have to do it as a team.”
Miller, whose back issues may force him to go out on top and retire a champion this offseason, was especially valuable to the HEAT and his play was indicative of the way role players stepped up on this team in Game 5.
“Tonight I got some extended minutes and was able to take advantage of it,” Miller said. “Everything we’ve been through as a team, it was a team thing and everything we’ve been through as a team has been well worth it.”
From tonight on, the championship burden resting firmly on James’ shoulder has been pushed away, the monkey on his back shoved off. There are no other stigmas blocking James from continuing his course as conceivably the greatest player of our time.
It’s up to James to continue the legacy that was strewn about when he first stepped on the scene out of high school. “King James” must now live up to the hype of his self-proclaimed greatness with the main obstacle out of his way: an NBA Championship.
With clutch performances and key baskets throughout the 2012 postseason to add to his resume, the canvas is blank and the sky is now the limit for LeBron James.
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