The Summer of 2010 was a hot time in South Beach and brought both LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami. The joining of James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami divided most NBA fans and experts. Old school basketball fans did not like building a team with superstars joining forces in free agency. However, Pat Riley did not care what anyone thought. He was in it for a championship just like he always has been.
LeBron James could finally breathe again after the Miami Heat defeated Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals to claim his first NBA championship. He had finally responded to his critics in the only way he could. After nine seasons in the league, James had finally broken through for a title. With all his individual talent, many people thought he just couldn’t lead a team to a championship. However, with one title in the bank (and the weight of the world off his shoulders), LeBron and his teammates could focus on repeating as champions. They would be substantially helped with that goal by the addition of veteran Ray Allen to come off the bench and add extra depth.
Miami was on fire to start the 2012-13 season, behind James, who shot an incredible 56.5 percent from the floor and cruised to his fourth Most Valuable Player award. Miami went 66-16 during the regular season which included the second-longest win streak in NBA history, a 27-game run that began January 30th and ended March 27th with a loss to Chicago.
The Bulls who were the top seed in the Eastern Conference in 2012, lost their ex-MVP, Derrick Rose, to a torn ACL during the 2011 playoffs. He missed the 2012-13 season, which stopped the Bulls from charging deeper into the playoffs. The New York Knicks had a revival of sorts lead by the league’s top scorer, Carmelo Anthony, and an offense that nailed a league-record 891 three-pointers. The Knicks won 54 games.
In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol. However, the high expectations crashed and burned early on as they struggled to only get the #7 seed. The other Los Angeles team, however, was beginning to take off. The Clippers continued their success from 2012 with the “Lob City” trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers won 56 games and its first division title. Out in Denver, the Coach of the Year in George Karl lead the Nuggets to 57 wins. Memphis set a record with 56 victories, and Golden State got back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007 thanks to the play of Stephen Curry.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to repeat as Western Conference champions. Unfortunately, they would suffer a major setback when all-star point guard, Russell Westbrook, tore his right lateral meniscus in the first round of the playoffs. The Thunder would fall to the Grizzlies in the second round. However, the Grizzlies were no match for the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Finals and lost in four straight games.
In the East, the Heat and Pacers battled in an epic Eastern Conference Finals that went seven games. The young upstart Pacers used their size inside with Roy Hibbert to cause major matchup problems. However, in the end, Miami handed Indiana a game #7 loss to advance to their third straight NBA Finals.
The 2013 NBA Finals was truly one of the best in recent memory, despite having a couple of blow out wins in game #2 and game #5. However, in game #6, with San Antonio on the verge of their fifth overall championship, Ray Allen would simply not allow it! With 20 seconds left and the Spurs up by three, LeBron James missed a three-pointer, but Chris Bosh pulled down the board. Bosh dished the ball to Allen in the corner who drained it to tie the game and completely swing the momentum of the series. Miami held on to win game #6 in overtime and went on to win another tough battle in game #7. The Miami Heat had repeated as champions despite the toughest battle they had faced.
Even though many did feel that the Heat took major “short cuts” to build their championship teams, no one can deny they earned their titles on the court. With Wade battling injuries throughout their title runs, James and Bosh had to step up many times to come up with big plays. Ray Allen came up clutch just like he has throughout his career. The team would have contributions from Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Chris “Birdman” Anderson among others. Miami had become a hot bed and a destination for free agents to want to play. The third overall championship for the Heat franchise might have been their hardest to win, but it was also their most satisfying.