For eight spectacular seasons, LeBron James had done everything on the basketball court except close a championship.
Thursday night, the eight-time All-Star and three-time MVP closed emphatically, coming up big when it mattered most and earning the first ring of his career.
The Miami Heat rolled over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 on Thursday, 121-106, and James added some more hardware to his collection: an NBA Finals MVP trophy.
Tweets of the Night
Miami was ahead by just seven when Perk came back in with 7:20 left in the second. In 2 minutes, 39 seconds, the Heat went up 17— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) June 21, 2012
Bleacher Report's own Tom Kinslow played off of Mayberry's tweet about Miami's three-point shooting:
Not exactly what you gameplan for. RT @DarnellMayberry: Miami is 9-for-16 from 3-point range, 56.3 percent.— Tom Kinslow (@TomKinslow) June 21, 2012
With the Heat in the huge lead in the third quarter, Mario Chalmers decided to mince words with Kevin Durant. Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland.com was not amused, along with the rest of the Heat:
Juwan Howard pulls Mario Chalmers away so the Heat can yell at him— SebastianPruiti (@SebastianPruiti) June 21, 2012
Andrew Brandt of ESPN tweeted:
Mike Miller and Shane Battier are not part of the Big Three but are sure hitting some big threes.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) June 21, 2012
Of course, with the Heat blowing out the Thunder in the fourth quarter, the one and only Peyton's Head had to chime in:
This is the point where Scott Brooks tells the refs "It's over", then calls his players off the court and hands them orange slices.— Peyton's Head (@PeytonsHead) June 21, 2012
LeBron James started the game off in dramatic fashion, a sign of what was to come for the Thunder:
Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade had a beautiful finish off an alley-oop from Mario Chalmers:
And when the Thunder were still in the game in the first quarter, Kevin Durant showed why he's going to be a good one for a while:
Grades for Key Thunder Players
Kevin Durant: A-
Kevin Durant did have six turnovers, but he was one of the few Thunder players who shot well from the field, and he crashed the glass. Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds on 13-of-24 shooting in a losing effort.
Russell Westbrook: C-
The Thunder couldn't afford for Westbrook to go cold from the field given James Harden's struggles throughout the series. But this was clearly Westbrook's worst game of the finals. He got to the free-throw line a lot, but he simply couldn't sink shots in an elimination game. Westbrook finished with 19 points and six assists on 4-of-20 shooting.
James Harden: D-
Harden got to the free-throw line, but beyond that, he once again gave a poor performance. For a guy who won the Sixth Man of the Year award and played like it against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals, Harden looked like a completely different player in the 2012 NBA Finals. He ended up with 19 points, but most of his production came in garbage time.
Grades for Key Heat Players
LeBron James: A+
I rarely give an "A+" grade, but whether you love or hate LeBron James, he was fantastic throughout the NBA Finals, including in his crowning moment: Game 5.
James did what he always does: everything you can possibly do on a basketball court. It's safe to say he's gotten past his playoff woes. His play in the the 2012 NBA Finals will go down in history. James finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, two blocks and one steal while shooting 9-of-19 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Dwyane Wade: A
Dwyane Wade didn't get a whole lot of shots, but with Mike Miller and Shane Battier knocking down three-pointer after three-pointer, he honestly didn't have to shoot a lot. Wade played within the game and stepped up when he was called upon. He ended with 20 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Chris Bosh: A-
Chris Bosh took advantage of the Thunder continuing to use Kendrick Perkins on him. He was the quicker player and was able to create distance and hit jumpers throughout the game. His rebounding numbers weren't spectacular, but he filled his role alongside James and Wade. Bosh finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Talk about an all-around great performance from the Big Three.
Deciding Factor: Shooting
The Thunder not only got bombed from downtown, but they were also out-classed from practically every spot on the floor on Thursday. It was an offensive barrage from the Heat, while the Thunder had a nightmare of a night from the field. The perfect storm.
The Thunder shot 41 percent from the field, while the Heat shot nearly 52 percent, including 14-of-26 (.538) from downtown.
Will LeBron James go down as an all-time great?
Game MVP: LeBron James
I was thinking about putting Mike Miller down here but...OK, seriously, we all know who the Game MVP was. His name is LeBron James, and he truly was "King James," "The Chosen One," whatever you want to call him after this series.
He continued the trend of being everywhere on the floor in Game 5, and whatever happened to him down the stretch in the playoffs, he should think about holding on to that feeling. He played like an all-time great in the Finals this year, and he capped it all off on Thursday.
After capturing the title, the Heat will now have a parade in Miami...for a second time. There's always next year, Oklahoma City.
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