LeBron James re-Heats title for Miami


MIAMI — It was a brilliant night for the Miami Heat, boisterous, memorable and fun.

It was a very quiet night for one demographic — LeBron James haters.

James buffed and shined his legacy by leading Miami to a 95-88 victory Thursday in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.

He had 37 points and 12 rebounds against San Antonio, won the Finals MVP award and snuffed out the critical fire that almost continually ringed the NBA’s best player.

The championship sun finally broke through for him a year ago, but the clouds moved in quickly after his shoddy Game 5 performance Sunday (eight-for-22 shooting, 25 points).


So he posted a triple-double in Game 6 and was remarkably strong again in Game 7, continually delivering daggers with his outside touch because the Spurs forced him out of the lane at all costs.

A second consecutive championship is his. Nothing to criticize here. Please disperse.

“The vision that I had when I decided to come here is all coming true,” said James, who improved to 2-2 in the Finals. “I came here to win championships and to be able to go back to back. Two championships in three years so far. It’s the ultimate.”

James’ gain was Tim Duncan’s loss. The veteran was going for his fifth championship in as many trips to the Finals, trying to get San Antonio its first since 2007.

Neither happened. James was too much. He started out one for five but heated up midway through the second quarter and never really stopped.

He made 12 of 23 shots and was five of 10 from three-point range. His 19-footer gave the Heat a 92-88 edge with 27.9 seconds left. His steal off an ill-advised Manu Ginobili pass gave the Heat the ball back. His two free throws put the Heat up six with 23.5 seconds left.

When it was over, James had earned the highest-scoring Game 7 in the Finals since Jerry West had 42 points for the Lakers against Boston in 1969.


Miami had two surprising on-court absences — Chris Bosh and Ray Allen were each scoreless — but Dwyane Wade had 23 points and Shane Battier had 18, making six of eight three-point attempts.

Wade fought through pain in both knees to become a three-time champion, he playfully reminded everybody.

“My name is ‘Three,’ not Dwyane,” he said, giggling. “All the giddiness is the champagne talking. This is the sweetest one by far because of everything we’ve been through, everything I’ve been through individually and to get here to this moment, to have that kind of performance, that kind of game, help lead my team, it’s special, man.”

Duncan had 24 points and Kawhi Leonard had 19 for the Spurs, but two samples of consistency weren’t enough to win a Game 7.

Danny Green set a Finals record with 25 three-pointers in only five games but faded from there, totaling eight points over the next two games.

Tony Parker (10 points) made only three of 12 shots Thursday and Ginobili had four costly fourth-quarter turnovers.


With the Spurs down two, Duncan missed a short hook with 48.9 seconds left and couldn’t tip in his miss. He bent down and slapped the court in frustration at the other end.

James has been able to tune out all the negatives, be it media criticism, his own poor play earlier this series, whatever crisis is circling over the Heat on a given day.

He finished with averages of 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and seven assists over seven games.

“I want to be, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to ever play this game,” James said. “And I will continue to work for that, and continue to put on this uniform and be the best I can be every night.”

Now more than ever, it’s James’ world. All other NBA stars are merely living in it.