With the mighty Lakers in decline, the door was open for another team (or teams) to own the 2010s. First through were the Miami Heat, courtesy of “The Decision” made by LeBron James to take his talents to South Beach.
With James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh forming a new Big Three, the Heat steamrolled to the NBA Finals in four straight seasons. After falling short in 2011, Miami blitzed a young and talented Thunder team featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden to win the 2012 Finals. The feat gave James his long-coveted NBA title, an achievement that included earning Finals MVP honors.
The Heat returned to basketball’s ultimate stage in 2013, this time against an opponent of ultimate championship pedigree in the San Antonio Spurs. Miami appeared in danger of defeat after trailing the series 3-2 and finding themselves down late in Game 6. Ray Allen’s 3-pointer after an offensive rebound with 5.2 seconds remaining, now considered one of the greatest shots in NBA history, sent the game into overtime. The Heat prevailed in Game 6 and Game 7, putting themselves in the same company as other back-to-back championship franchises.
On the opposite coast of the country, another dynasty was brewing. By the time James left Miami 2014, Golden State was ready to take over the league in record-breaking fashion. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the best-shooting backcourt in NBA history, led the team to consecutive Finals appearances. After winning in 2015 and losing to Cleveland in heart-breaking fashion in 2016, the already mighty Warriors added another superstar by signing former league MVP Kevin Durant.
The rest of the league proved no match for the unprecedented talent and shooting of Golden State, which went 16-1 in the 2017 playoffs en route to the championship. The following season, the Warriors found themselves in a position to repeat as champions for the first time against Cleveland, the same opponent they had faced the previous three years. Golden State brushed the Cavaliers aside in four straight games, claiming back-to-back titles and their third in four years.