On June 20th in 2013, LeBron James and the Miami Heat repeated as NBA Champions with a 95-88 Game 7 win against the San Antonio Spurs. En route to the third title in franchise history, the Heat became the sixth franchise (at that time) in NBA history to win back-to-back titles.
They became the fourth team in NBA history to win the final two games of an NBA Finals at home since the format changed to 2-3-2 in 1985, joining the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers (1988, 2010) and the Houston Rockets (1994).
By becoming the first and only team in NBA history to defeat the Spurs in a championship series, the Heat became one of only eight teams in NBA history to have won at least three championships.
This game was just a couple of days after the Spurs were nearly crowned champions, however, Ray Allen's clutch corner three helped the Heat force overtime and then, LeBron James' heroics in the fourth quarter and overtime helped the Heat win Game 6 and force a Game 7.
Coming off that game, James led from the front once again. Playing 45 minutes, he finished with a game-high tally of 37 points and a team-high tally of 12 rebounds on 12-of-23 shooting from the field.
Subsequently, at the trophy presentation ceremony, he was named Finals MVP for averages of 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.3 steals in the seven games.
He joined the likes of Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant to be the only players (Kevin Durant joined this list in 2018) to have received the Finals MVP honours in consecutive years.
"I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason," said James. "I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I'm at a loss for words."
This Game 7 was tightly-contested, with seven lead changes and 11 ties, until the Heat iced it with a 5-0 run in the final minute of the game. Dwyane Wade was the Heat's other big contributor with his double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds on 11-of-21 shooting from the field.
"It took everything we had as a team," Wade said. "Credit to the San Antonio Spurs, they're an unbelievable team, an unbelievable franchise. This is the hardest series we ever had to play. But we're a resilient team and we did whatever it took."
For the Spurs, Tim Duncan (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Kawhi Leonard (19 points, 16 rebounds) were the best players in this game with their double-doubles but the Spurs probably didn't recover from the gut-punch in Game 6.
"In my case, I still have Game 6 in my head," Manu Ginobili said. "Today, we played an OK game. They just made more shots than us. LeBron got hot. Shane (Battier), too. Those things can happen. But being so close and feeling that you are about to grab that trophy, and seeing it vanish is very hard."
Lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy capped off the Heat's greatest season in franchise history. They won a franchise-best 66 games in the 2012-13 regular season which included a 27-game winning streak - the second-longest in NBA history.
Other notable events on June 20th
- In 1993, John Paxson's 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left followed by Horace Grant's block on Kevin Johnson sealed a 99-98 Game 6 win for the Chicago Bulls. The victory was the Bulls' third consecutive championship, becoming only the third franchise in NBA history to 3-peat. For averages of 41.0 points (a Finals record), 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, Michael Jordan was named Finals MVP for the third time in his career.
- In 2006, Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 95-92 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and clinched their first championship in franchise history. Dwyane Wade was named Finals MVP for averages of 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 steals. This Heat squad was the third team (now four) in NBA history to rally from an 0-2 series deficit in the Finals to win the title.
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