The Heat won the franchise's second NBA championship last night, beating the Thunder 121-106 in Game Five of the NBA Finals, and Heat F LeBron James said, "This is the happiest day of my life" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/22). Heat President Pat Riley said, “We believe we built a team to be around for awhile” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/22). Riley: “Now we grow. Now we evolve. Now comes the fun. This finally allows these players to be free." Riley, when asked what one word he would use to describe the last two years, said, “Harrowing. ... Every single night, I took the losses personally. These guys took less money to come here because of promises we made them. I don't think I could have looked them in the eye if we didn't win the championship. The idea of that actually made me sick" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/22). Heat Owner Micky Arison said, “I thought we were the better team last year. But we weren’t ready.” Arison added, "There's a lot of great stories. And LeBron's obviously, because of all the s--- he had to take" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 6/22).
LEBRON-MANIA: The AP’s Tim Reynolds asks, “Could this just be the start of what James is going to accomplish?” (AP, 6/22). ESPN’s Magic Johnson before Game Five said that the impact of an NBA championship on James “cannot be understated.” Johnson: “I think everything changes. He can now feel, ‘You know what? I’m the best player in the world because I’ve won a ring. The ring says so, not the media, not the marketing says so. But my game actually says so.’” He added, “His popularity will grow. The NBA benefits from that. … It’s going to be LeBron-mania like we’ve never seen before” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/22).
VINDICATED? YAHOO SPORTS’ Marc Spears writes under the header, “Architects Of 'The Decision' Get To Enjoy LeBron James' Moment Of Glory As NBA Champion.” James’ marketing firm LRMR “was initially laughed at.” But now, seven years after departing from agent Aaron Goodwin, James “was recently ranked fourth on Forbes' list of richest athletes.” He is the “top-ranked NBA player in that group.” CAA agent Rich Paul, who is also a co-founder of LRMR, said, “Being young and black and going into a business where you are trying to establish position and where you are able to make business decisions with the lack of what people would call an education, not having a degree, no one wanted to give us a chance. ... We were able to come through that and learn from a lot of people that we had around us and position ourselves to be, not necessarily just successful economically, but successful from a positioning standpoint to have a bright future.” LRMR CEO Maverick Carter said, “No matter what went on with LeBron, we stuck with what we did, talking with each other, being honest with each other and truthful with each other. And if I messed up LeBron told me. And if LeBron messed up or Randy [Mims] messed up, we just told each other. And we never gave into anything around us" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/22).