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.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 51 2nd Half 0:21
Texas-El Paso 60
Coastal Carolina 46 2nd Half 14:37
Chattanooga 48
Kansas 47 2nd Half 16:16
Rhode Island 33
Wisconsin 11 1st Half 12:08
Georgetown 17
FIU 14 1st Half 9:19
USC Upstate 18
Long Island 3:00 PM
Stony Brook
San Diego 3:30 PM
Xavier
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 16 1st Half 9:37
Washington 15
Wichita State 3 1st Half 13:42
Fla Gulf Coast 10
Wisconsin 3:15 PM
(1) South Carolina
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
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