Season of turmoil ends with Heat celebration

Nothing has come easy in the postseason for the newly-crowned NBA champion Miami Heat, who believe they lead the league in pain and suffering in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

The Heat earned the franchises' second NBA title Thursday at American Airlines Arena after losing the first game of the series then winning four straight.

LeBron James, who was named playoff MVP, scored 26 points to go with 13 assists and 11 rebounds as the Miami defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in game five to clinch the league championship.

"Everybody brought this together to make it happen," said Heat president Pat Riley. "It is not easy. It is one of the hardest things you will ever do.

"We believe we built a team that's going to be around for a while."

The Heat became the first team to win an NBA finals after trailing in three different playoff series. They trailed the Thunder 1-0, fell behind the Boston Celtics 3-2 and trailed the Indiana Pacers 2-1.

"Since I won it six years ago, I've been through a lot in my personal life and I've been through a lot in my professional life," said guard Dwyane Wade said. "This one means so much more."

Miami's clinching game was an emphatic statement of dominance after their three previous wins were all decided by a just a handful of possessions.

James finished with a triple double in the most important game of his career. His 13 assists equalled a playoff career high.

"It's about damn time," James said during the on court celebration immediately following the game.

James teammed up with Chris Bosh and Wade two years ago to build a basketball juggernaut that became the team everybody loved to hate. They reached last year's final but lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

The trio came out of Thursday's game with three minutes left in the fourth and they rejoiced on the sidelines while their teammates took care of business on the court.

Miami led by 24 points at the end of the third quarter so by the time the final buzzer sounded, and the confetti and streamers dropped from the rafters, the celebration had already begun.

The building shook, James jumped up and down and Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra was given a Gatorade shower.

Mike Miller led a barrage of three pointers by the Heat, finishing with a playoff career high 23 points as he was seven-of-eight from beyond the arc.

The Heat blew the game open with a 19-1 run in the third quarter and finished 14-of-26 from three-point range overall.

Wade, who was the MVP of the 2006 NBA finals, is one of just two current Heat players who were with the team the last time they won the title. The other is Udonis Haslem.

Reigning NBA regular season and playoff MVP James is considered the best player in the game, but he failed in his first two trips to the finals -- a 2007 sweep at the hands of San Antonio when we was with the Cleveland Cavaliers and last year's crushing defeat to the Mavericks.

Miami dropped game four in Dallas last year, kicking off a three-game slide that cost it a title.

The Heat won their first championship six years ago, roaring back from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight, becoming just the third team to win a title after losing the first two games in the NBA finals.

That series marked Wade's coming out party and this year it was James' turn to win his first title in his ninth year in the league.

"It has definitely been a journey," James said. "Everything that went along with me being a high school prodigy when I was 16 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated to being drafted and having to be the face of a franchise.

"I had to deal with everything and I had to learn through it. I had to learn it on my own. All the ups and downs.

"I am happy now that nine years since I been drafted I can finally say I am a champion. I didn't shortcut anything. I put a lot of hard work and dedication into it."

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates late in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American ... more 
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates late in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 121-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) less 
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Getty Images | Photo By Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Fri, Jun 22, 2012 11:58 AM SGT
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