LeBron James and the Miami Heat are on top of the world for the second straight year after the team repeated as NBA champions, beating the San Antonio Spurs in a decisive seventh game Thursday night.
James, 28, repeated as Finals MVP after he scored 37 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and took control of the game during the final minutes before ultimately prevailing over the Spurs in Miami, 95-88. James was the catalyst when it counted the most with the Heat clinging to a two-point lead with 30 seconds left.
James nailed a jumper to make it 92-88 with 27.9 seconds left on the clock. Moments later he stole the ball and was fouled in the process.
James, often dubbed King James, hit both foul shots to put Miami up six with 23.5 seconds remaining. The sea of Miami Heat fans, all dressed in white, began celebrating as the clock ticked down to zero.
The win capped off another stellar season in James' already storied career. He led Miami to a 66-18 regular season record and captured his fourth straight league MVP trophy. As fans and sports pundits continue to compare him with the all-time greats like Michael Jordan, James is not listening to any of it.
"Listen, I can't worry about what everybody says about me," James said, holding the NBA title and his Finals MVP award. "I'm LeBron James, from Akron, Ohio, from the inner city. I'm not even supposed to be here. That's enough.
"Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a No. 6 with James on the back, I'm blessed. So what everybody says about me off the court, don't matter. I ain't got no worries."
The Heat became the NBA's first repeat champions since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009-10, and the first team to beat the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and won his third NBA title. Shane Battier had 18 on six 3-pointers.
The series clinching game followed Tuesday night's wild Game 6, where the Heat rallied late to push the game into overtime and force a seventh game.
On Thursday night, the Spurs bounced back from coming so close to a championship in Game 6 and were led by star forward Tim Duncan, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds. Duncan, a four-time NBA champion, missed a shot and follow attempt right under the basket with about 50 seconds left and the Spurs trailing by two.
Kawhi Leonard hit a 25-foot three point jumper to bring the Spurs to within two, but that's as close they would get in the final two minutes of the game before Battier nailed a three and James took over from there.
Spurs player Tony Parker was just 3-for-12 with 10 points, four assists, while Manu Ginobili had 18 points.
"Just give credit to the Miami Heat. LeBron was unbelievable. Dwyane was great. I just think they found a way to get it done," Duncan said. "We stayed in the game. We gave ourselves opportunities to win the game, we just couldn't turn that corner."
It's was also a bit of sweet revenge for James, who lost to the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals while a member of the Cleveland Cavilers. Following the loss, James made the highly publicized decision to leave Cleveland and join the Heat.
"They pushed us to the limit," James said of the Spurs.
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- LeBron James