Now that he's secured his second straight Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, it'll be a little bit harder to knock him.
LeBron James earned the prestigious honor after posting 37 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the Miami Heat's 95-88 Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat's Twitter feed congratulated their superstar after the announcement:
Overcome with emotion when receiving the award, James noted how far he's come throughout his career, per Pardon the Interruption's Twitter feed:
In a series full of adversity for James, it was only fitting that his series-closing moment was one for the ages.
With the Heat ahead 90-88 with a little over a half minute remaining in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, LeBron James was dribbling about 35 feet out from the basket, draining the shot clock in an effort to suffocate the San Antonio Spurs' comeback bid.
He then took a high screen from Mario Chalmers, darted to the right elbow and raised for a jumper as Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard gave chase. The shot touched nothing but nylon.
James, the man who was once deemed incapable of having the fortitude to thrive in "clutch" situations, had just hit the most clutch shot of all—one that clinched his team's NBA championship. Manu Ginobili turned the ball over for the Spurs on the next possession, James coolly knocked down two free throws after a subsequent foul and the celebration was on in South Beach.
Thursday night's win gave the Heat their second NBA championship of the "Big Three" era, a win that capped one of the best NBA Finals in history. James, again, came up big when his team needed him most.
His 37 points came on 12-of-23 shooting, including a 5-of-10 performance from beyond the three-point arc that seemed impossible this time a year ago. For the series, James averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and seven assists per game.
The award is James' second consecutive finals MVP, another crowning in a career full of them for the game's best player. He's just the third player in league history along with Russell and Michael Jordan to win back-to-back MVPs (regular season and finals) and NBA championships, another piece in James' ever-growing legacy.
Thursday night's crowning achievement will go along with James' four regular-season MVP trophies, a figure that puts him only behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan and Russell. At age 28, the man once self-proclaimed King now stands above the rest of his contemporaries again.
But, as has been the case throughout his career, this triumph wasn't easy. The Spurs, behind Gregg Popovich's mastermind game plans, stifled James' ability to make plays for the first three games of the series. He was held under 20 points in each contest, with San Antonio's emphasis on allowing mid-range jumpers — rendering him frustrated and unable to attack.
As the series wore on, though, James found his rhythm. The reigning league MVP drove a stake through the Spurs' heart in Game 6, helping lead the team back in the fourth quarter with a clutch 16 points in Miami's comeback effort to force overtime.
It was a series full of those career-defining moments for James, and now he's once again the best player on the planet's best team.
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