I began to think about the theme of this article after Game 4 when it became painfully apparent Miami and one LeBron James would win the NBA Title.
There was no question the Heat would close out the Thunder in Game 5. Seriously, Chalmers scored 25 in Game 4...MARIO CHALMERS! Mike Miller and Shane Battier were hitting 3s like they were layups. There was just no way Miami was letting this thing go back to OKC.
I thought about living in a world where LeBron was an NBA champion and the "king with no ring" jokes we would miss out on, how the Mayans might be right about 2012, how this was an asterisk title, how Ohio's favorite son would finally win a long-awaited title...yes I'm talking about Norris Cole. I figured humor and lame jokes would be the best way to go, but that changed when I saw LeBron on the stage and to my shock, he actually looked like a champion.
Last night, my appreciation for LeBron's skill, athleticism, hard work, and overall dominance increased. I believe most sports fans want to see great players rewarded, but they want to see it earned and not given.
LeBron has been through a lot in the past year, heck his entire career. Yes, he's absolutely brought a lot of the scrutiny on himself and has been rightfully criticized at times, but there was no doubt he earned at least that one moment on the stage last night.
He was gracious in his acceptance of the Finals MVP award and gave credit to his teammates when we all know he was on another level during this series, (First close out game triple-double since Duncan in 2003). He never complained to the media about the coach and to the public's knowledge was a model person on and off the court.
This wasn't really about redemption at all. LeBron has always been elite. He just needed to be elite when it counted.
I don't agree with "The Decision" or how the Heat came together, but at least they showed some respect for the effort it takes to become a champion.
Spurs fans despise the Mavs and Mark Cuban, but for a split second last year, I would hope there was some admiration for what it took Dirk, Kidd, Terry and the organization to reach the mountain top. It was David Robinson, Jordan, Isaiah, Hakeem and Drexler all over again. And then it was LeBron last night.
Winning a title is a process and besides LeBron's jubilation, the other image that stood out was Kevin Durant letting the waterworks flow in the tunnel back to the lockeroom.
It's that pain and those moments that motivate players to win championships. KD reached a new level this post-season, but I don't think he and the rest of the Thunder truly understood what it takes to get that ring when you're so close. For the first time in his career, it really felt like LeBron did. I get the feeling we'll see the same from Durant soon.
I chose Miami to win the title from the start of the playoffs and credit them for what they accomplished. I'll let LeBron have this moment in the South Florida sun because he earned it, but as a non-Heat fan, I will absolutely be rooting for them to fall next season and let the jokes fly once again. Besides Will Perdue still has LBJ beat by two titles. Take that King!