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Heat Repeat: Epic 2012-13 Finals end with another championship for Miami Heat

he Miami Heat celebrate after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

After eight months of competitive basketball – and with 30 teams contending for the same goal – the fate of the 2012-13 NBA Championship came down to 39 seconds and two points.

With 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Finals – between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio SpursLeBron James received the ball after a Heat timeout. He stood inside the opponent’s half, but was still several yards behind the three-point line.

He dribbled left, then right, and as a screen forced the defenders to switch on him, he drove right, took a step inside the three-point line, checked his run and shot a pull-up jumper, with Kawhi Leonard’s outstretched arms ahead of him.

Swish!

Miami had a four point lead with 28 seconds to go. If his heroics of Game 6 had taught us anything, it was that Game 7 was very much still alive. But the Heat were firmly in the driving seat now.

he Miami Heat celebrate after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

28 seconds of game-time later, the clock expired to 0:00. It brought an end to the quarter, the game, the series and the NBA season. And after a hard-fought battle featuring two of the most talented and well-structured teams in the league, the Heat survived to win their second consecutive championship.

LeBron’s crucial shot was yet another exclamation point in a series full of memorable moments. Game 1 had Tony Parker’s incredible shot as the shot-clock expired in the game’s dying seconds. Game 2 and 3 were blowouts, as each team took turns showcasing the strength of their three-point weaponry. An unlikely hero – Danny Green – emerged to set a new Finals record for three-pointers made.

Game 4 saw a vintage performance by Dwyane Wade to tie the series. In Game 5, Ginobili scored 24 points and dished 10 assists to give the Spurs a 3-2 lead. Game 6 was perhaps one of the greatest games in Finals’ history, including an amazing 25 point half by Tim Duncan, a triple-double clutch performance by LeBron, and the clutchest of clutch three-pointers by Ray Allen to complete Miami’s epic comeback and send the game into overtime.

New heroes like Kawhi Leonard and Green emerged, while old ones like Duncan and Wade reminded the world that they still had a lot of gas left in them. Role players from both sides stepped up often.

But it was LeBron – who finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds in a clutch Game 7 – who put a stamp on the series by saving the Heat in the last two games and hitting the jumper that sealed the deal for his second crown. LeBron capped his fourth MVP season with his fourth trip the Finals and his second championship.

“The King” joined Bill Russell and Michael Jordan as the only players to win back-to-back regular season MVP awards and championships. After struggling (by his very high standards) earlier in the Finals, LeBron stepped it up to do everything necessary on both ends of the floor to carry his team to the Promised Land once more. He averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 7 assists, and a bunch of big shots to seal his second consecutive Finals MVP award.

LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

For the Spurs, this loss leaves a bitter taste. For large stretches of the Finals, they were clearly the better side. But Miami showed more resilience and toughness in the last two games at home to close out the veteran side.

San Antonio led the series 3-2 and came within inches of sealing the deal and winning a championship in Game 6. That one will haunt them forever. It would be the first time in five Finals in their franchise history that Spurs came out as losers. But in their valiant performances, they can still exit with their heads held high.

Meanwhile, the Heat lifted their third franchise title, all of which have come in the last seven years with Dwyane Wade. The arrival of LeBron and Chris Bosh sparked them back to contention in 2010, and the Heat made three trips to the Finals, winning the last two.

A second consecutive championship as the best player in the league pushed LeBron further up into the realms of the game’s greatest and closer to reaching the incredible potential that he was blessed with. A third ring for Wade confirms his status as a true warrior in this league, who is dedicating his career solely to championship success. Despite all the doubts about him, Bosh became a two-time champion, and showed up big in stretches during the Finals to deserve it.

After jumping ship from the Celtics, the greatest three-point shooter in history (and the man who saved the Heat this year) Ray Allen will enjoy his second ring too. Coach Erik Spoelstra, the man with the hottest seat in the business, did what few thought was possible: outcoach the active basketball tactician Gregg Popovich at the biggest stage.

LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat celebrate in the second half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat celebrate in the second half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

The Heat now have the opportunity to join an even more exclusive club. The word ‘dynasty’ is used rarely in this league, and is bestowed upon only those champions who can win not one, not two, but three championships in a row.

Only the 50s Lakers, the 50s-60s Celtics (who won eight in a row and 11 total!), the 91-93 Bulls, the 97-98 Bulls (two separate three-peats), and the early 2000s Lakers have enjoyed the dynasty title. The Heat are one more championship away from entering his hallowed group as well.

And to think, the fate of it all depended on those 39 seconds and two points. Moments and match-ups like these make the NBA such a joy to experience. Only the Miami Heat were rewarded a championship today, but basketball fans everywhere were rewarded with the joy of a Finals series for the ages.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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