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SportsCentre Year In Review: LeBron and the Heat win again

Mike Beauvais, TSN.ca Staff

12/23/2013 10:26:00 AM

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 2013.

Today, we look back at LeBron James and the Miami Heat winning their second straight NBA championship.

'The Decision' seems so long ago now.

It's now been over three years since LeBron James sat down with Jim Gray to let the world know that he was taking his talents to South Beach, turning his back on his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and signing with the Miami Heat to form - along with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade - the NBA's most hated triumvirate.

Something strange, but compelling, has happened since then and it culminated in the Heat's second-straight NBA Championship this past June.

It took three years, but LeBron James finally found redemption.

Few shed tears when the Heat fell to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the 2011 NBA Finals. The sense of schadenfreude was palpable as Mark Cuban's charges pulled the upset and left the Heat wondering what went wrong.

When the team re-emerged in 2012 as Eastern Conference Champions and mowed down the Oklahoma City Thunder to claim the Heat's second-ever NBA Title, there was a sense of inevitability. They were built to be the best and they were and there was nothing anyone could say otherwise.

But something changed in 2013 and it's hard to put a finger on it. The NBA's reigning champions, the league's biggest heels in recent memory, underwent a transformation that few saw coming.

Maybe it was the second act of Chris “Birdman” Andersen, the man once banned from the league on drug offences who signed in January and emerged as a catalyst for the club just before their 27-game winning-streak that took them into late March.
Maybe it was watching Ray Allen, chartered member of the Boston Celtics' “Big Three” shift into a supporting role with the Heat, coming off of the bench to provide key minutes.  Maybe it was watching the team battle to a seven-game Eastern Conference finals victory over the upstart Indiana Pacers, the team that will most likely challenge their Eastern Conference crown come this June.

If it was none of those, it was certainly Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Down 13 points in the fourth to the San Antonio Spurs and seemingly doomed to their second defeat in the NBA Finals in three seasons, James decided to take control of the narrative on his own, dropping 18 points in the final frame to help send the game into overtime, where the Heat came back for a 103-100 win to even the series for a third time. The Heat's Game 7 triumph seemed like an inevitability after that, the aging Spurs deflated and resigned to defeat.

In looking human, the Heat found humility.

In humility, they found victory.