In the closing moments of Game 7 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, LeBron James was at his best. With 27.9 seconds left in a one-possession game, he drilled a two-point shot, then stole the ball, drew a foul, and hit two free throws to clinch victory and a second-consecutive NBA Championship for the Miami Heat.
And for the second year in a row, James, arguably the best player in the game, was named the NBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Heat’s 95-88 deciding game victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
“I work on my game a lot, throughout the offseason,” James said. “I put a lot of work into it, and to be able to come out here and [have] the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”
Despite visibly limping between plays, Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade turned in a solid 23-point, 10-rebound effort to win his third NBA championship. Shane Battier put up 18 points on six three-pointers, while Mario Chalmers had 14 points for Miami.
“It took everything we had as a team,” Wade said. “Credit to the San Antonio Spurs, they’re an unbelievable team, an unbelievable franchise. This is the hardest series we ever had to play.”
The Spurs lost the Finals for the first time in five appearances despite outscoring the Heat 684 to 679 in the series. After blowing a five-point lead with 22 seconds to play in Game 6, San Antonio missed several crucial opportunities in Thursday’s Game 7. Spurs veteran Tim Duncan (24 points, 12 rebounds) missed what would have been a game-tying hook shot and subsequent tip with 48 seconds left in the game, and Manu Ginobili (18 points, five assists) committed several crushing turnovers in the final minutes.
Despite San Antonio’s best efforts, the game and series belonged to James. Over the past 12 months, James has collected two regular season MVP awards, two NBA Championship rings, and an Olympic gold medal. His domination of his sport is unparalleled among current pro athletes.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has watched James create his legacy over the past few years. “He always rises to the occasion when it matters the most,” Spoelstra said, “when the competition is fiercest.”