Column: LeBron took his talents to South Beach and got just enough help to prove him right

  • Article by: JIM LITKE , AP Sports Columnist
  • Updated: June 21, 2013 - 3:15 AM

Chris Bosh told those Heat fans who had left Game 6 early to stay home, and judging strictly by his line in Game 7, he barely bothered to show up himself.

Fortunately, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did.

"The vision that I had when I decided to come here is all coming true," James said after the Heat beat the Spurs 95-88 in Game 7 on Thursday night to capture a second straight NBA title in their third consecutive Finals appearance.

And he's right.

James was already the best player in the game when he made "The Decision" nearly three years ago, a move that the rest of the basketball world pounced on as a sign of weakness, a tacit admission that he couldn't win a championship all by himself.

James was right on that score, too.

Bosh, always destined to be third among The Big Three, wasn't much help on this night, contributing zero points on 0-for-5 shooting with seven rebounds. But Wade stepped up, despite a shaky knee, and Shane Battier had a career shooting night when it counted.

Wade surrendered his lead-dog role with the Heat to recruit James in 2010, but took over during a rocky stretch in the second quarter and proved he could still be the man when it mattered. He finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Battier, perhaps the most cerebral guy in the NBA, snapped out of a poor-shooting streak to make 6 of 8 attempts from beyond the arc, and cracked afterward, "It's better to be timely than good."

The Heat still look like a chemistry experiment-in-progress some nights, a collection of Type-A personalities waiting for their cue to take over. James was reluctant to do so at first, because his personality — as has been endlessly dissected — reflects Magic Johnson's pass-first demeanor more than Michael Jordan's shoot-always attitude.

But as James reminded everyone at the end of both Game 6, when the Spurs first dared him to drive the ball to the basket, then Game 7, when his defender laid back and dared James to shoot from the perimeter, scoring is not a problem. Even if those long and mid-range jumpers were not among his strengths before this season began.

"I put a lot of work into my game over the offseason and to come out here and see the results happen on the floor," he said, "is the ultimate."

Amid all the celebrating, Heat president Pat Riley said he would do his best to bring everybody back, perhaps because he still owns the trademark to the term "Three-peat" dating to his days as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I just want this thing to keep going. I'm at an age right now where I'm ready to, you know, fly off somewhere. But I'm not going to, because the good lord has blessed me with a team that's allowed me to grab onto his coattails, for as long as they want to be together."

One storyline that underpinned the Finals, but didn't warrant much discussion until the trophy presentation began, was the impending retirement of NBA commissioner David Stern.

Stern couldn't help patting himself on the back, noting that the Finals were being broadcast in 217 countries and 47 different languages after his 30 years of promoting the game worldwide. You have to wonder, though, whether secretly he wasn't hoping to hand over the hardware to the Spurs at least one more time.

These Finals were about opposing strategies on how to build a dominant franchise in the post-Jordan era. The Spurs, a small-market operation that built through the draft and filled out their ranks with a few shrewd pickups, are a marvel of consistency. They're coached by Gregg Popovich, who's learned to get by with less and maximize every shot he gets.

The Heat were convenient villains, fair or not, for skipping most of the preliminaries and assembling the core of the team with little more than a checkbook. James' move to Miami touched off free-agent envy among his superstar brethren — everybody wanted to be a part of a Big Three somewhere — and the rest of the league is still scrambling to put one together as formidable as Riley's troika in Miami.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:00 PM
Indiana
Denver 7:00 PM
Memphis
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Boston 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Arizona 6:30 PM
Toronto
Dallas 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Detroit 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Columbus 6:30 PM
Florida
Nashville 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 1:00 PM
Providence
Michigan State 5:00 PM
Rutgers
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Army
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Youngstown St 6:00 PM
Detroit
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Furman
Saint Louis 6:00 PM
George Mason
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
High Point 6:00 PM
Liberty
Central Conn St 6:00 PM
Long Island
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Dayton 6:00 PM
Massachusetts
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Maryland 6:00 PM
Ohio State
FIU 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Bryant 6:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Stetson
Coll of Charleston 6:00 PM
Towson
Western Carolina 6:00 PM
Va Military
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Wagner
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
North Florida
Appalachian St 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Holy Cross 6:30 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Eastern Ill 6:30 PM
UT Martin
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Belmont
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Cincinnati
Rider 7:00 PM
Saint Peters
SIU Edwardsville 7:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Marshall 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Tenn Tech 7:00 PM
Tennessee St
Middle Tennessee 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Weber State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Denver 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
IUPU-Ft Wayne 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Louisiana 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Georgia State 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 7:30 PM
Troy
Portland 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Missouri
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UMKC 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Chicago State 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Colorado 8:30 PM
USC
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Pacific
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UCLA
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
BYU
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 11:00 AM
South Alabama
Saint Josephs 11:30 AM
Saint Louis
Appalachian St 4:00 PM
Georgia Southern
Niagara 4:00 PM
Saint Peters
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
FIU
Southern Miss 5:00 PM
Marshall
Georgia State 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 5:15 PM
Troy
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
(17) Duke
(6) Tennessee 6:00 PM
(10) Kentucky
(24) Oklahoma 6:00 PM
(14) Texas
Nebraska Omaha 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
UC-Riverside 6:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Army 6:00 PM
Boston U
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Nicholls
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Towson 6:00 PM
Delaware
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Northeastern
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Clemson 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
(23) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(8) Louisville
Missouri 6:00 PM
Florida
Iona 6:00 PM
Fairfield
Manhattan 6:00 PM
Marist
NC State 6:00 PM
Virginia
(4) Notre Dame 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(22) Rutgers 6:00 PM
Purdue
(5) Maryland 6:00 PM
Michigan
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Cleveland State
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Florida 6:00 PM
Kennesaw St
Stetson 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Loyola-Maryland 6:05 PM
Holy Cross
Lamar 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Fla Gulf Coast 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Vanderbilt 7:00 PM
(18) Miss State
IUPUI 7:00 PM
Western Ill
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
McNeese State 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Oral Roberts 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Louisiana Tech 7:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
UAB
Auburn 7:00 PM
Arkansas
Grand Canyon 7:00 PM
UMKC
Illinois 7:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
(20) Iowa 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Utah Valley U 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Green Bay 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Ole Miss 8:00 PM
LSU
Portland State 8:00 PM
Montana
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Montana State
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Weber State
Ohio State 8:00 PM
Wisconsin
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho State
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close