MIAMI: The King has his crown.
The Big Three have finally won the big one.
No, not quite yet “. . . not two, not three, not four . . . ,’’ but an initial fulfillment of those promises in July 2010 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh came together and vowed a championship future for the Miami Heat.
That future is now.
Validation came shortly before midnight Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena, a rousing 121-106 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder to end these NBA Finals that was so thorough in its completeness that the celebration began well before the final buzzer.
NBA 2012 scoring champion Kevin Durant will have to wait for his turn.
Because on this night, LeBron James met his self-appointed, “Decision”-determined destiny, emerging as Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals six weeks after being named the NBA’s regular-season MVP.
Meeting the moment, and then some, something that wasn’t the case during last season’s Finals disappointment against the Dallas Mavericks, James closed with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, his eighth career playoff triple-double and second playoff triple-double with the Heat.
In recording his first triple-double of the season, regular season or playoffs, James became just the seventh player with multiple triple-doubles in the NBA Finals, having done it last season with the Heat against Dallas. He joined Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Walt Frazer and Bill Russell on that list.
James went in fully aware of the moment at hand.
“It’s always been a dream of mine even when I first picked up a basketball and started getting into the history of the game, how great it would be to hold that trophy up some day and be a part of a championship team,” he said at the morning shootaround.
He then delivered that destiny.
Bosh, whose three-week absence with a lower-abdominal strain nearly capsized the Heat’s postseason, added 24 points and seven rebounds.
As for Wade, there were 20 points but could have been more if not for early foul trouble.
In so many ways, this was an over-the-top performance.
In closing 14-of-25 on 3-pointers, the Heat tied the NBA Finals record for conversions from beyond the arc. The long-distance attack was fueled by oft-injured reserve forward Mike Miller, who set a Finals record for a reserve with his 7-of-8 3-point shooting. Until Thursday, Miller’s season high, regular season or playoffs, had been 12 points.
With Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers also contributing multiple 3-pointers, the Thunder simply ran out of answers, Durant scoring 32, Russell Westbrook 19.
A lockout-delayed season that did not begin until Christmas delivered a gift the Heat hope now can keep on giving, the franchise’s second NBA championship a potential springboard to those multiple championships James forecast amid his South Florida welcome in July 2010.
For Wade and Udonis Haslem, the lone holdovers from the Heat’s 2006 championship team, it means another parade down Biscayne Boulevard, another ring.
For James, Bosh, and the others who signed on to lend support, enduring veterans such as Battier, Miller, James Jones, Ronny Turiaf, Eddy Curry and 18-year-veteran Juwan Howard, it is a champagne breakthrough.
For neophytes such Chalmers, Norris Cole, Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman and Terrel Harris, it represents an early career taste of something many never experience.
From the depths of a 2-1 deficit in the second round against the Indiana Pacers, a 3-2 hole against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals and then a series-opening loss to the Thunder in the NBA Finals, emerged a resilience that defined this group, many of whom were staggered when a 2-1 Finals lead a year ago against the Mavericks turned into the ignominy of a Game 6 championship celebration by Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry at AmericanAirlines Arena, one that spilled over into the clubs of South Beach.
Now it is the Heat who again own South Beach and Brickell and Broward, Palm Beach and every other South Florida setting so enthralled by the possibilities created by the 2010 free-agency haul of Heat President Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison.
The Heat became the 11th team to win a title after losing the NBA Finals the previous season, as well as the first team to win a title after falling behind in their final three playoff rounds, having lost the opener of this series.
The Heat also became the third team to sweep the middle three home games in the 2-3-2 Finals format. The only team to previously close out a championship in such a matter was the 2004 Detroit Pistons.
For the Thunder, it is the first time in 277 games, regular season and playoffs, they have experienced a four-game losing streak.
James is now 10-2 in closeout games since 2009.