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Friday, June 21, 2013

Not 1...!

The Miami Heat won the 2013 NBA Championship. This marks the second consecutive championship for the Heat, third in franchise history (2006). It is the second step toward reaching extremely high expectations for the Heatles. LeBron James earned his second championship ring in his fourth trip to the NBA Finals. Dwyane Wade won the third championship of his career.

Whatever the legacy of the Heatles becomes, nothing about that legacy will be associated with luck, lightning in a bottle, one-hit wonders, or any terms that imply the inability to sustain long-term dominance. The Miami Heat joined a very exclusive club by becoming the eighth team in the last quarter century to secure a successful title defense. They may just be getting started. In spite of the weaknesses that were exposed in the 2013 season, particularly in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers and in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, the Heat are the presumptive front-runner in the Eastern Conference heading into the offseason. 


In spite of both teams alternating wins in the first six games of the series, there was very little drama in this Finals series until Game 6. Miami, down three games to two and trailing by two possessions while less than a half minute from elimination, with security staff assembling the yellow ropes to facilitate a Spurs championship celebration, put together a fast and furious rally with clutch three point shots by LeBron James and Ray Allen to send the game into overtime, ending in a Heat victory.  

While Game 7 was not as breathtaking as the conclusion to Game 6, it was nonetheless as tight a battle as any basketball fan could have asked for. Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs drilled a clutch 25-foot three point shot to cut the Heat lead to two points with two minutes to go. San Antonio would not score another point, going 0-for-4 the rest of the way. Game over…back-to-back Heat championships…retiring NBA Commissioner David Stern rides off into the sunset, and the television networks are thrilled.

In an instant, fates were reversed and the Heat ripped the Spurs' championship rings off of their hands. 3

The story that will continue to write itself is the greatness of LeBron James. For all of the speculation as recently as two years ago about LeBron James not being a clutch player, not having what it takes to win a championship, or shying away from the big moment late in a game, James has utterly destroyed those perceptions during the past two seasons. At age 28, James has amassed four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, and two NBA Finals MVPs. 

In contrast, Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player of all-time (an argument I would make, for now) won his first NBA Championship and Finals MVP, with two league MVPs and a Defensive Player of the Year award under his belt at age 28. LeBron James is knocking on the door of the NBA’s 10 greatest players of all-time. His ability to climb to the #1 spot is not out of the question.
Time will tell. 2
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