Then when Robinson connected on a 20-footer with 1:18 left, the Bulls had the lead and plenty of swagger.
With good reason, too.
Wade missed a 3-pointer on the next possession, Robinson drove the lane and scored with 45.5 seconds left, and suddenly the Bulls were up 90-86 — rendered virtually the entire building silent.
James drove against Butler and tried a 12-footer that missed everything, the Bulls got the rebound, Robinson made a free throw to stretch the lead to five and the stunner was complete.
Game 1 to the Bulls. And with it, home-court advantage as well.
It was a night that started with a celebration and ended with Miami’s arena in silence.
James was honored before the game, with a brief on-court ceremony to commemorate his fourth NBA MVP award.
“Everybody here knows about the statistics,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said. “All I would like to add in presenting this trophy is that LeBron James exemplifies the values of our game. Teamwork, passion, a continued extraordinary desire to improve, and a state of excellence that is unmatched. So thank you LeBron James, for what you bring to our league.”
James picked up the trophy — he was actually presented with it Sunday — and made a slow circle with it aloft, as cheers rained down from the sold-out stands.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without these 14 guys here, our coaching staff and most of all you guys,” James said, speaking to the crowd. “This trophy is for you. So thank you so much, and let’s get ready to go.”
And with that, the game started.
Problem was, no one was ready to go.
The Heat missed their first seven shots — maybe rust from an eight-day layoff really was a factor — and Chicago led 21-15 after an opening quarter where Nazr Mohammed, he of the 2.6-point-per-game scoring average in this regular season, had as many points (two) as any Miami starter did.