Three things we learned in Miami's clinching 121-106 win in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals:
Bow down to the King
Perhaps this is all he needed to do to be “liked” once again by the majority of the public.
Make no mistake, LeBron James (26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds) ruined his own image – the one Nike, Sports Illustrated, Powerade, and ESPN went to Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan-like lengths to create since 2003. He placed the hate on his own head due to The Decision and the “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five …” deal.
But today it seems like eons ago that he rented out that studio in Greenwich, Conn. It seems like eons that Jim Gray soaked up the drama for a disgusting half hour. It seems like eons that the deprived children of Greenwich “supported” LeBron during his difficult decision-making time.
But LeBron has now fully rehabbed his image. It took “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” but just ONE title to do so.
Wade knew his role
Dwyane Wade (20 points, eight rebounds) will have a much different legacy than LeBron when all is said and done. And that's fine by him, apparently.
The day LeBron joined Wade in Miami, Wade no longer seemed intent on chasing the Kobe Bryants and Michael Jordans of the world.
It took two years to adjust, but give him credit, he did.
In their first postseason together, Wade and LeBron seemed to take turns being THE MAN (it happened early in this postseason as well).
But something clicked along the way for the two. Wade let LeBron be LeBron.
Wade's point totals weren’t too different in the last two postseasons: he averaged 23 ppg in the 2011 ECF and Finals and averaged 22 ppg in this year’s ECF and Finals.
But the difference in who took the clutch shots and who provided the energy night-in and night-out was startling. That is the main reason why they are champions today - they simply figured it out in the last month.
Game 5 blowout
No one thought the Thunder would go down in five. In fact, the thought was that the Western Conference was leaps and bounds better than the East.
But matchups are the only things that matter in championship contests. And the Heat matched up perfectly with Oklahoma City.
Miami let Oklahoma City's big three be themselves: Durant had 32 in Game 5, Russell Westbrook 19 and James Harden 19.
But the role players weren't there for OKC.
Starting center Kendrick Perkins put up a line of two points and four rebounds in Game 5. Starting two-guard Thabo Sefolosha had 0 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists in the Heat's clincher.
Miami's Mike Miller (a whopping seven 3-pointers in Game 5), Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers were tremendous in the series and helped James finally get his first ring.