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Friday, June 22, 2012
King James earns long-awaited crown

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

LeBron James
It took nine seasons, but LeBron James finally has an NBA title to his name.

As I said before the season started, this was going to be the year that the Miami Heat and LeBron James would stand tall with the gold trophy.

Mission accomplished.

It was not easy, but King James and the Heat finished the job off in five games. He got the monkey off his back and got to the winner's circle.

LeBron was super-motivated, playing with a chip on his shoulder from the get-go. He clearly learned from last season's disappointing loss in the Finals to Dallas. King James was a different player this season, and it shows.

He won MVP in the regular season and the Finals. He also proved to all the critics that he could make big plays late in games. I loved the way he made his teammates better all season long. James was sensational in leading the Heat to the NBA title.

Think about what he accomplished. He averaged over 30 points per game against the Celtics and Pacers. Then, in the Finals -- on the big stage against Kevin Durant and a talented, young Oklahoma City Thunder team -- LeBron averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists. He put up a triple-double in the series-clinching Game 5.

LeBron James finally has his championship, and he will eventually get into the argument among the best of the best of all-time. He has already put together great numbers over his nine years in the league. It took a championship to change the perception of many fans. Remember, he is only 27 years old.

Congratulations to Heat architect Pat Riley, owner Mickey Arison, young coach Erik Spoelstra, who faced so much pressure, and to the team. Give some credit to the improved supporting cast, but the bottom line is, this team played as a unit, working together as one. To James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and the whole gang, congratulations on a brilliant performance.

Now the fans in Miami will ask, can this team repeat? LeBron and Co. have something else to be motivated about.