By Brandon Niles Explorebigsky.com Sports Writer
MIAMI – Lebron James finally earned his longtime nickname “King James” on June 21, when the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, held in Miami.
With his first championship and Finals MVP award, James has silenced the many critics who’ve questioned his ability to close out games and win when it matters most.
James was dialed in from the opening score of the game, which was a dominating dunk early in the first quarter that gave the Heat a 2-0 lead over the young and talented Thunder. With a look of sheer determination on his face, James got back on defense and proceeded to put together one of the most impressive first half performances of the series.
By the second quarter he was scoring nearly at will against all who attempted to guard him, and it became clear he wasn’t going to let this opportunity go. And by the third, it was clear the Heat would be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy at the night’s end.
James finished the game with a triple double, scoring 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, to go with a pair of blocks and a steal, in a dominating performance from start to finish.
The Heat has endured tremendous criticism since losing in the finals last year to an aging Dallas Mavericks squad. None have drawn as much ire as James however, whose determination and killer instinct has been called into question repeatedly over the past several years. Critics and pundits have questioned whether he could take a team all the way to the championship.
Game 5 changes all that. With the Heat’s championship victory and the ensuing well-deserved Finals MVP award, James has proven he’s capable of becoming one of the greats.
For the league, the scary thing is that James likely isn’t done. He’s close to the same age Michael Jordan was when he won his first title, and he’s surrounded by a team with tremendous talent. The Heat should continue to add role players each season, and James has at least seven more years of dominant play left.
This finals victory could be the beginning of a dynasty in the NBA. Now that Lebron has that first title under his belt, the rest of the league will need to fight even harder to have a chance at a championship.
James was already arguably the league’s best player. Now that he has a title, it’s official, and there’s no reason to think he won’t win again. My advice to those who’ve criticized him over the past several years is to sit back, relax and appreciate the opportunity to watch one of the best players the game has ever seen enter his prime.
The rest of the league will likely be looking up at him for the next several years, and the road to the NBA Finals will likely go through Miami for at least the foreseeable future.
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