I’ll start only with…it was 3 series and 23 blogs ago, the Miami HEAT put forth an effort. An effort divine in intention and execution. To bring home to the GREAT city of Miami an NBA Championship…
That’s all I got for dramatic lead-ins; the results can speak for themselves no less than THE SAME DAY they took the title in 2006. Fitting. Dramatic. Finally. FINAL-LY!!!! Mission Accomplished by the Miami HEAT.
The HEAT ripped the Thunder 121-106 in front of an electrified Miami home crowd. As Pat Riley said from his post-game interview in front of 20,000 live in the AAA: ”With your permission, can we start this party?”
Keys to the Game:
1. LeBron James: What a difference a year makes. Last year, it was hesitation by James that rendered the criticism that trailed through an off season and an elongated lockout. Something from the first game of the season he never let go of, using every measurable nerve of pain to propel he and this team over the top in magnificent fashion. How ironic, the man that averaged 19 points in Finals appearances before this series, would average 28 points against the biggest imaginable threat the HEAT could face. And how fitting, to end the game with a triple-double and the MVP Trophy-26 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists. How amazing, with so much damage HEAT #6 delivered at every turn during the NBA postseason, he was allowed to just be LeBron James and focus on playing the complete scoring/passing/rebounding game his numbers reflected in game 5 and allow the rest of his family to pick up the rest.
2. Mike Miller: Under any other circumstances he’s number one on this writeup-what he did was absolutely staggering. 7-8 from Downtown Biscayne and 23 points (you read it right-23 points) on the night, his execution, effort, hustle in a final game rivals the performance of Kirk Gibson in the ’88 World Series for a wounded but-never-broken hero. Body hurting, but not his heart, not ever his soul-he has given his livelihood for this team in every shape and form. Words can’t describe witnessing his contribution to a 25 point lead the HEAT would maintain up and down through the 4th quarter. He will go down as an NBA Legend tonight, in perhaps his final NBA appearance.
3. The Miami HEAT: The collective squad did the impossible tonight under unimaginable pressure at home, up 3-1 to convert it for a win. 6 players for the HEAT in double digits to the tune of James, Wade, Battier, Bosh, Miller, Chalmers to deliver a true, flying death-machine performance and get the Championship they all have been so desperately seeking. Scoring didn’t do it alone-the defense shut down the Thunder to 42% shooting, allowed only Durant/Westbrook/Harden to get double digits and give zero lanes to pass, drive or shoot all night. The lack of answers for a HEAT team remained in their on-the-brink game 5, it was exponentiated tonight by perhaps the greatest team effort in NBA Finals history.
4. 3rd Quarter: The 3rd quarter gets a special mention- the HEAT posted a picture-perfect 36 point onslaught from every angle; 3-point land, on the drive and on pull-up jumpers that will be a highlight reel on it’s own for years to come. They hit the Thunder with so much so quickly from the 4 minute mark til-close, it was surprising that Head Coach Scott Brooks didn’t have their cut-man throw a towel at a passing ref to stop the contest all together. The definition of HEAT basketball in it’s most perfect form delivered the knockout blow, extending an already impressive lead to disaster in almost no elapsed time. Phenomenal, fitting and righteous play by the HEAT.
For the Thunder-there will be anguish. Closing coverage showed an emotional Kevin Durant hugging his family in the halls entering the visitor’s locker room. While emotion was expected…there will be no Thunder player collapsing against a wall like Chris Bosh last year. There will be no OKC All-Star going into seclusion for two weeks refusing to shave, shutting themselves away from the outside world due to the devastation of this loss. The pain from the series hurts, but from game one forward it was clear who wanted it more. The Thunder have a lot to be proud of as a young team that will only get better with continued hard work and should return to the final dance next year. There is a confidence that should come from that, there were two teams that entered the ring 5 times and the other guys- the hungrier, more mature and ultimately more driven team pulled out four of the wins to clinch the result.
Mission Accomplished for the Miami HEAT in a playoff run and Finals delivery that will not be forgotten. Emotions can’t describe it for those that have lived and died by this team’s results and headlines for the past two years. While it was the players fighting the battle, it has always been the fans who stood firmly behind them and believed in the players, management and the experiment that so many believed as a failure. Everyone was self- invested in this team and project, down to the the fans who traded the emails and analysis over countless company man-hours, sharing jokes, “rants,” stats, words of encouragement and above all things-hope when things were low. What I’ve witnessed that is most special by this team, is that this whole thing was put together with their interests in mind. The fans. The city of Miami. Where does that ever happen without another agenda? Which makes this trophy, title and forthcoming celebrations all the more meaningful as it’s everyone’s to share.
For the fans and the readers some parting words: One down, 6 to go. Weather the storm and stay the course- It’s going to be a grind, so live in the moment; 4 Spoelstra-isms, one for each Finals win all-together for your reading enjoyment (or laughter). The moment is overwhelming now, it is great to finally enjoy it, live it, breathe it, and savor it. Miami won’t let this feeling go for a good, long while.