Source: The Wall Street Journal
MIAMI -- When speaking about his oft-criticized and overanalyzed star, LeBron James, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has a line: You can't win unless you win.
James won in every conceivable way Thursday as his Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 121-106, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win James's first NBA title, erasing nine years of doubts and disappointment.
The man dubbed "The King" in high school finally had his coronation, and while the game will go down in history as James's vindication party, it will not be remembered as particularly dramatic.
The Heat led by 24 points after three quarters and were never threatened. Despite the fact that this was a mere formality -- the Heat had a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and frankly, the Heat were expected to win the title due to their talent -- the mood among the team, especially James, was giddiness and joy.
Drenched in champagne, he could not stop smiling. In the packed, alcohol-soaked locker room, he became separated from his Finals MVP trophy and immediately started hollering that he needed to hold it again. It is apparently good to be King.
For the Heat, this is the reward for an impossibly wacky two years that began in the summer of 2010, when it became possibly the most disliked team in sports after James ditched the Cleveland Cavaliers to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to form a megateam in South Florida. In a twist, Thursday's win didn't look like the superstar circus the team usually looks like: Sharpshooter Mike Miller, a role player with a bad back, made seven 3-pointers to score 23. Bosh had 24, and Wade added 20.
The players, wearing white championship T-shirts, spoke of the evolution of an often-clumsy team that struggled to mesh and sometimes played out like a bad novel.
"I know I'm playing with the best player in the world and that doesn't take anything away from me at all," Wade said. "It was hard for me to do it, and no one would understand, but it was easy for me to do it for this team."
That didn't come easily last year when the Heat made the Finals but lost to the Dallas Mavericks in one of the biggest flops in recent NBA history. Wade said he saw the team's stars "not wanting to step on each other" while James saw what he had to improve on -- namely, everything.
"[Losing last year] was the best thing that ever happened to me in my career," James said. "Because basically, I got back to the basics, it humbled me, and I knew what it was going to take and I was hoping to have to change as a basketball player and change as a person to get what I wanted."
Read More: King James, Miami Heat crowned NBA champions