Leading up to SportsCentre's Year In Review on Christmas Eve, TSN and TSN.ca look back at each of the Top 10 stories of 2012. And TSN's reporters and analysts who covered the events as they happened offer their personal reflections on the stories.
Today, the the NBA on TSN's Jack Armstrong looks back at LeBron James finally capturing his first NBA championship with the Miami Heat.
They did it!
After all the hype, 'The Decision,' The Big 3 and guarantees of multiple championships, the Miami Heat accomplished their goal of being a champion.
First of all as a former coach, I have tremendous respect for the job that Erik Spoelstra did with his team. It's not easy dealing with huge expectations and the drama surrounding the team - let alone the egos involved. The spotlight and pressure here were immense and he kept his cool with laser-Like focus in his pursuit of excellence.
Now you can say he had wonderful talent to deal with here, but the ability to produce big results when you've got the bullseye on your back is quite the challenge. And he produced results. His team grew in its defensive discipline, role definition and overall attention to detail. That's a talented young head coach maturing before our eyes.
When I think of LeBron James, I thought he was amazing last season. He improved his low-post game and his willingness to mix it up in the paint - a matchup nightmare. He is a truly selfless performer who is so willing and takes great pleasure in providing teammates the opportunity to shine.
Sure, he's got a big ego and he knows he's really good - he is. Bottom line - he's a guy that's a terrific teammate and cares about the team first and foremost. If I'm starting a franchise of today's current players, he's the first guy I take hands down.
LeBron impacted the game at the highest levels in a way that few in the history of the game could consistently do it. I call it 'Sustained Excellence.' He was there every night for his team and you could clearly see a young man who had grown up and matured. He is truly worth the price of admission and now he has the monkey off his back which will help him long-term.
When I think of Dwyane Wade, I think of a true champion who has amazing toughness, competitive spirit, explosiveness and clutch/big stage ability. He was with the team in 2006 when they won it the last time and when I think of his performance in Game 4 vs. Indy (down 2-1 in series) in the playoffs and his fierce pride and overwhelming ability to remain unphased by the pressure, I marvel at him.
He's the guy you want right next to you in the foxhole. A winner. He had his injury and inconsistency issues las season but you couldn't doubt his love of the game and of winning. The man plays for keeps.
Lastly, when I reflect on the 'Big 3' and evaluate Chris Bosh, I see a player who is at peace with his decision to join the Heat and live with being the 'Third Wheel.' In a day and age of athletes with out of control egos, he checked his at the door and did what is asked of him. And he did it to the best of his ability.
He proved in his time in Toronto that he was a very good player who just didn't have the ability or drive to be the leading actor and live with being The Man. He found a situation that was a good fit for him and he has been an ideal compliment to James and Wade. He made big plays against the Thunder in the Finals and showed that his face up game and rebounding ability can be counted on when the chips are down. His skills fit the system and his willingness to totally 'Buy In' and make it work show his comittment to doing it the right way.
In closing, this team finally figured it out and has the goods to be in the hunt for a long time if they stay healthy. Pat Riley swung for the fences here and has put the right coach, the complimentary pieces, philosophy and stars together and it will be fun to watch and see how far they can take it.
It will be fun watching it all develop before our eyes. Most importanly, the focus is now on the right elements and with the vision being fufilled they now have a chance to reach even greater heights.