MIAMI — LeBron James and the Miami Heat remain atop the NBA, and not even a proud push from the San Antonio Spurs could knock them down.
James led the Heat to their second straight NBA title, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 95-88 victory Thursday night in a tense Game 7 of the NBA Finals that lived up to its billing.
Winning the title they needed to validate the best season in franchise history — and perhaps the three-superstar system they used to build it — the Heat won the second straight thriller in the NBA’s first championship series to go the distance since 2010.
James continued his unparalled run through the basketball world, with two titles and an Olympic gold medal in the last 12 months.
He made five 3-pointers, defended Tony Parker when he had to, and did everything else that could ever be expected from the best player in the game.
The Heat became the NBA’s first repeat champions since the Lakers in 2009-10, and the first team to beat the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Players and coaches hugged each other after the game, the respect between the franchises that was obvious when the series started becoming even more apparent after two straight classics.
Fans stood, clapped and danced across the final minutes, when every score was answered by another score, each stop followed by a better stop. The Heat pushed their lead to six points a few times midway through the fourth but the Spurs would never be deterred.
The Spurs, so close to a fifth title just two nights earlier, couldn’t find a way to grab it in this one, perhaps the last shot Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will ever get together.
They were trying to become the first road team to win a Game 7 on the road since Washington beat Seattle in 1978, but those old guys ran out of gas just before the finish.