Fri June 21, 2013
Miami Wins Back-To-Back NBA Championships, James MVP
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
By now, you might have heard, for the second straight year the Miami Heat are NBA champions.
INSKEEP: They defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-to-88 in Game 7 in Miami. The Heat's LeBron James scored 37 points on his way to a second consecutive MVP award.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Mike Pesca was at the game and he has this report.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Throughout the off season, with the Heat as defending champion; over the course of the regular season, with the Heat reeling off 27 wins in a row; through the playoffs with the Heat only suffering one loss in the first two rounds; there seemed to be no good answer to the question: Can anyone beat Miami? But then the Pacers revealed the Heat as vulnerable, and the Spurs came as close as any team possibly can to finishing them off. But the Heat survived, thanks to, as guard Dwayne Wade noted, every last morsel of effort from everyone who stepped on the court.
DWAYNE WADE: We needed every inch of what everybody gave.
PESCA: If you only look at scoring, the statistics seem to belie the notion that this was a team effort. Four Miami players accounted for 92 of the teams 95 points. but Wade, who had 23, would be the first to tell you - not only with his words but his tipped balls, blocked shots and relentless hustle - that contributions come from columns other than the one that reads points. For instance there was the Heat's defense.
If it's possible to knock out a player who'd been unconscious, that's what Miami did to Spurs guard Danny Green these last two games. When asked after the game to put his feelings into words, Green could summon...
DANNY GREEN: Hurt.
PESCA: Exactly as many words...
PESCA: ...as he had field goals the entire evening.
The Miami defenders treated Spurs shooters like termites treat wooden beams, by getting into them with abandon. Now, normally in the NBA, a team has to, as they say, pick their poison on defense. Decide on whether to emphasize guarding shooters or guarding the opponents' big men down low. Only the Heat rejected that premise. Before the game, Chris Bosh echoed what coach Eric Spoelstra had been saying, that a good team - no, a great one - can be everywhere.
CHRIS BOSH: Teams that don't win, they're going to say, oh well, we had to give up something. We're a type of team where we're going to take away the middle and take away three-point shot. And it's not easy. It's extremely difficult. It's very exhausting, but that's what we do.
PESCA: To be sure the Spurs, Tim Duncan had a good game with 24 points and 12 rebounds. But he wasn't the dominant force that he had been in the first half of Game 6. And he wasn't nearly the answer to LeBron James who consistently shut down whoever the Spurs top scorer was, and provided 37 points of his own. How James scored five three-pointers and an array of jump shots, was a testament to his belief in his own ability.
LEBRON JAMES: I looked at all my regular season stats, all playoff stats, and I was one of the best mid range shooters in the game. And I shot a high from the three-point line. And I just told myself why, don't abandon what you've done all year.
PESCA: When James doesn't dunk the ball on every play, he's called fearful. When he drives, draws the defense, and then whistles a cross court pass to a teammate, he's called passive. When he inhales he's called selfish. When he exhales he's called an egotist. Some fans and writers spend their days picking apart LeBron's flaws. Well, a person can drive up to the Grand Canyon and never peek inside, or visit Niagara, complain about the wetness and never look at the falls. There's all sorts of ways to willfully ignore greatness. Whose loss is that? Not LeBron's. Not the Heat. They're once more NBA champions.
Mike Pesca, NPR News, Miami.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.