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The Miami Heat turned the NBA world on its head, so to speak, when they added former MVP LeBron James and All-Star forward Chris Bosh to their team in the summer of 2010. Pairing those two with All-Star and former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade seemed to be all Miami would need to rack up many NBA titles in the coming years.
While the Heat did reach The Finals in the first season of the Wade-Bosh-James combination, they ultimately were upset by the veteran Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 series. That Finals defeat was fresh on the Heat’s mind as the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season began and Miami made sure it didn’t falter once again on the championship stage.
For James in particular, The Finals had been a nightmare in the wins and losses department. In his first Finals trip — James averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and 6.8 assists in the series — his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. Trip No. 2 to The Finals featured similar numbers from James (17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists) … in a six-game series he lost to the Mavs in 2011.
The 2012 Finals were a different story for James — and his team. His numbers were glimmering (28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists) and the Heat blasted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden’s Oklahoma City Thunder squad in five games. James claimed the first Finals MVP of his career for his efforts and, more importantly to him, got the championship he had pined for in his career.
“It was a journey for myself,” James said after Game 5 of the 2012 Finals. “All the ups and downs, everything that came along with it, I had to basically figure it out on my own. I’m happy now nine years later since I’ve been drafted that I can finally say that I’m a champion, and I did it the right way. I didn’t shortcut anything. I put a lot of hard work and dedication in it, and hard work pays off. It’s a great moment for myself.”
The 2011-12 season was basically all about James: he claimed the regular-season MVP, The Finals MVP and clinched the championship with a triple-double (26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds) in Game 5.
“This right here is the happiest day of my life,” James said. “This is a dream come true.”