“You know, I dreamed about this opportunity and this moment for a long time, including last night, including today,” James said an hour after the Heat had blown out Oklahoma City with a virtuouso team performance, winning the NBA Finals in five games. “You know, my dream has become a reality now; it’s the best feeling I ever had.”
His dream happened because five players and one basketball appeared to become one player and five basketballs. When LeBron and Dwyane Wade, who talked of “so much pain, so much hurt” from last season’s collapse in the Finals, finally checked out of this prolonged celebration that was Game 5, the crowd filling the arena showered them with a cacophony of sound. With 3 minutes 1 second left in this 121-106 rout, they embraced in the signature moment of their careers.
“The greatest moment of my life,” LeBron said as an enraptured gathering in white T-shirts roared louder.
He kept hugging everyone — especially the players not named Wade or Chris Bosh. Because he knew he wouldn’t have had this moment if he simply outplayed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, or because his numbers and his perseverance ended with him hoisting the Finals MVP trophy.
With 3:33 left, the window into Miami’s championship was clear. At the end of a Game 5 throttling of a team supposedly more complete and balanced than the Big-Three-and-Nobody-Else Heat, the ball began zipping around the perimeter — touch passes from Wade to LeBron, into the paint, into the corners. Until everybody touched the ball and it settled into Bosh’s soft hands just left of the free throw lines.
Square. Fire. Swish.
Four games to one, the best player in the game. Four games to one, the best and most surprising supporting cast in the game.
As the confetti kept coming down, as Miami owner Micky Arison lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy high and team President Pat Riley grabbed the microphone among the chanting and revelry, it was clear: LeBron finally had the players around him to be part of a title-winning team.
The biggest shocker of this series was that James Harden turned into a pumpkin, the Sixth Man of the Year struggling to score and make a difference in all five games. The Thunder role players were reduced to Derek Fisher chucking errant three-pointers and Nick Collison trying in vain to tip in missed shots.
LeBron’s supporting cast that was maligned for much of the past two years? Money. Absolute money.