The Miami Heat have been crowned kings of the NBA after winning the seventh and last game of an epic final 95-88, downing the San Antonio Spurs.
With 37 points and 12 rebounds, it was also the moment when the Heat’s LeBron James sealed his place in the pantheon of NBA greats, being voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player after dominating the game and silencing his critics.
James’s points tally was the highest in a Finals Game Seven in 44 years since Jerry West’s 42 for the Los Angeles Lakers
against the Boston Celtics in 1969.
James, who joined the Heat in 2010 after five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said: “It feels great. This team is amazing and the vision that I had when I decided to come here is all coming true. Through adversity, everything we have been through, we have been able to persevere and to win back-to-back championships. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
‘Championship for the ages’
Miami were the overwhelming favorites to take the title after winning a franchise-record 66 games during the regular season, including 27 in a row, the second longest streak in American professional sports.
But they met their match in San Antonio, an ageing team who had collected four championships since 1999 but whose best days were supposedly behind them.
The Spurs were just seconds away from clinching the championship in Tuesday’s sixth game before Miami staged an extraordinary comeback to win in overtime and force a winner-takes-all decider.
“It’s no fun to lose, but we lost to a better team,” San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said. “And you can live with that as long as you’ve given your best. It was a great series, and we felt that. I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the right word, but in all honesty, even in defeat, I’m starting to enjoy what our group accomplished already.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern described the wildly fluctuating series as a “championship for the ages” which had “captivated a global audience” with its escalating drama.