Sports: From Vilification to Vindication
DUMAGUETE CITY. On his third try, LeBron James has finally won a National Basketball Association championship after leading his Miami Heat ballclub to a 4-1 demolition of the Oklahoma City Thunder capped by a huge Game 5 victory at the American Airlines Arena highlighted by another triple double as icing for the cake.
King James was named as the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player with the award presented by the former Boston Celtics great Russell himself right after the game last Friday after the Miami main man topscored for the Heat in all five games against the Thunder in the NBA finale.
In Game 5, the 1st overall pick of the 2003 NBA Rookie Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers finished with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes for a rare triple double in an NBA Finals. James was ably supported by Chris Bosh’ 24 markers, Mike Miller’s 23 off the bench and Dwyane Wade’s 20 points.
With the rout, Miami’s reserves like Juwan Howard, Ronny Turiaf and Terrel Harris as well as Heat role players Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole and James Jones got a piece of the celebratory pie by playing quality minutes in Game 5. Only center Joel Anthony of Canada failed to see action for mentor Erik Spoelstra.
The victory was the first for James in as much as his NBA Finals stint is concerned after his Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 while losing last season’s championship battle with Dallas in his second attempt for an NBA ring. The 6-8 forward has been finally vindicated with the win...
It also marked the second time that the Heat owned by Micky Arison with NBA great Pat Riley as the team’s general manager have won the Larry O’Brien Trophy after then Miami mentor Riley guided the quintet to a 4-2 series triumph over the Mavericks in 2006 after trailing Dallas, 0-2, in the best-of-seven series.
This time around, Miami also won four straight after losing Game 1 to Oklahoma City over at the Chesapeake Energy Arena en route to the NBA crown. It was an almost repetition of sorts for the Heat referring to their huge comeback against Dallas in 2006 only that Miami won Game 2 on the road before closing the series at home by winning three in a row.
In 2007, 2009 and 2010, the Heat were eliminated by Chicago, Atlanta and Boston, respectively, right in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs before advancing to the conference finals versus the Bulls during the 2010-11. Although the Heat won the East pennant, they lost to the Mavs in the battle for the crown.
Blame was particularly put on James who was criticized for his sudden collapse in the series against the Mavericks in last season’s NBA Finals. Even Wade and Bosh were widely held liable for their lackluster performance against Dallas which cost them their second professional league title.
Anyhow, James (and Wade, Bosh, too!) has been finally vindicated as what your Sideline Spectator has mentioned earlier and this calls for a big celebration in Florida as well as the millions of Miami Heat fans all over the world particularly here in the Philippines. Add to the fact that Miami mentor Spoelstra has some Filipino roots in his blood!
The 121-106 Game 5 win for the Heat was a fitting blow that knocked the Thunder for good, an assurance that there’ll be no Game 6 (or even Game 7) in Oklahoma City despite Kevin Durant’s 32 markers as well as Russell Westbrook and James Harden’s 19 points apiece.
While making this piece here in Dumaguete City for last Saturday’s Petron versus Rain or Shine Philippine Basketball Association road game at the Lamberto Macias Gym won by the Elasto Painters (103-82), I have to give credit also to Miller’s 23-point performance in Game 5 including his 7-of-8 success from beyond the arc which spelled the difference in this title-clinching game for Miami.
Hats-off to King James and to the rest of the Heat!*
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