Lebron James dreamed of this moment all his life, and it finally happened Thursday (June 21) when he and his Miami Heat teammates beat out the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to become the 2012 NBA Champions.
It is James' first title in his ninth NBA season, and after three Finals appearances -- the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, then he and the Heat fell in six games to the Dallas Mavericks last season.
"You know, my dream has become a reality now, and it's the best feeling I ever had," James said.
The Heat won the best-of-seven series Thursday evening with a 121-106 win, and capping things off a four-game win streak.
James had a triple double with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in a Finals-MVP winning performance, the third of the series; Chris Bosh scored 24 points; and Dwyane Wade added 20 and eight rebounds. Mike Miller helped off the bench with 23, thanks to seven three-pointers.
When James first announced he was "taking his talents to South Beach," he became the NBA's biggest villian. Cleveland fans had their heart ripped out of their chests, and felt betrayed.
However, the ridicule and damage to his image was all worth it ... because this moment is what he's been playing for. This moment, it's undeniable. King James is the best player in the game... on the best team in the league. And now, they are NBA champs.
"I'm happy now that eight years later, nine years later since I've been drafted, that I can finally say that I'm a champion, and I did it the right way," James said. "I didn't shortcut anything. You know, I put a lot of hard work and dedication in it, and hard work pays off. It's a great moment for myself."
The Heat led most of the way in Game 5, last trailing with 7:43 remaining in the first quarter. Going into halftime, Miami led 59-49. When the second half began, they took over, outscoring Oklahoma City by 14 in the third quarter, and leading by as many as 26.
Their 3-point shooting contributed heavily to their lead. The Heat shot 14 of 26 from the 3-point arc, tying NBA Finals history for most three's ('95 Rockets, '95 Magic).
Although Kevin Durant lead OKC with 32 points, it wasn't enough. Russell Westbrook, the team's second-leading scorer, finished with 19 points on 4 of 20 shooting.
James and his teammates were hopping up and down on the sidelines in the final minutes of Game 5, and when the game ended, he shared a long hug with opponent Kevin Durant, then soaked in the "MVP! MVP!" chants during the postgame celebration.
"I wanted to become a champion someday," James said. "I didn't know exactly when it would happen, but I put in a lot of hard work."
With three triple-doubles in the series, James was named the NBA Finals MVP as well.
The Heat earned their second title in franchise history, following their title in 2005-06, led by a much younger Dwyane Wade alongside Shaquille O'Neal.
The Heat's win was followed by a celebration that early into Friday morning (June 22). According to TMZ.com, King James and his teammates were poppin' bottles and smoking cigars in Miami until, at least, 6 am.
Check out some of the photos, visit TMZ.com.