LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have faced plenty of adversity together and Thursday’s title-deciding seventh game of the NBA Finals was their biggest test yet.
“It’s the ultimate. I am at a loss for words,” James said of the Heat’s 95-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the last game of the best-of-seven series. “I am LeBron James from Akron, Ohio — from the inner city. I am not even supposed to be here.”
The Miami Heat dynasty is now officially off and running while the San Antonio Spurs let one slip away. And in the end, James grabbed another championship ring and added his second NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award in a row to go with it, securing his place as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
James capped his season with a game-high 37 points and 12 rebounds as he became only the ninth player to win multiple NBA Finals MVP awards, joining Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan and Willis Reed.
He averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and seven assists in the finals and had the highest-scoring NBA Finals seventh game since 1969 when Jerry West scored 42 points against the Boston Celtics.
Wade, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds on Thursday, earned his third championship ring and is one of just two Heat players, along with Udonis Haslem, to be on all three Miami championship teams.
“We go through life so fast,” Wade said. “The championships I’ve won seem like they went past me so fast. Tonight I wanted to take a minute, take a moment and just soak it in. This is a special moment for me.”
James struggled to find his form early in the series but his overall performance was brilliant and even Jordan-like, especially the way he had to step outside his comfort zone on offense and take whatever the Spurs’ defenders would give him.
“I watched film, and my mind started to work and I said, '’OK, this is how they’re going to play me for the whole series.’ “I looked at all my regular-season stats, all my playoff stats, and I was one of the best mid-range shooters in the game. I shot a career high from the 3-point line.
“I just told myself, ‘Don’t abandon what you’ve done all year. Don’t abandon now because they’re going under. Don’t force the paint. If it’s there, take it. If not, take the jumper.’”