The moments that made an MVP season

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 12 2012 12:21 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this April 4, 2012 file photo, Miami Heat's LeBron James looks down court during the first half of a NBA basketball against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Miami. A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that Miami's LeBron James will be announced Saturday as the NBA's MVP, the third time he's won the award in the past four seasons. James will be the first to win as a member of the Heat. His previous MVP awards in 2009 and 2010 came when he played for Cleveland.

J Pat Carter, Associated Press

MIAMI — LeBron James wears jersey No. 6 in Miami, so here's six memorable moments from the season where the Heat star became just the eighth player in NBA history to win a third MVP award. The announcement was made by the NBA on Saturday:

6. The Closer

James scored 12 points in the final 3:02 of a game at home against Philadelphia on April 3, capping what became a season-high 41-point effort for the eventual MVP. The 76ers got within three points late, before James made two jump shots in a 24-second span to provide some breathing room, then sealed the win with an alley-oop dunk less than a minute later — closing a possession extended by Shane Battier diving to control an offensive rebound.

Quotable: "It was a big play. The dunk, it was the easy part, honestly." — James.

5. The Flurry

Miami was trailing 63-49 at halftime of a home game against San Antonio on Jan. 17, a game where James played through flu-like symptoms in the first two quarters. Whatever James did to feel better at intermission apparently worked wonders. The Heat went from getting blown out to a blowout win, with James outscoring the Spurs 17-12 in the third quarter by himself, keying a 23-1 run with three 3-pointers in a span of less than two minutes, and Miami won 120-98.

Quotable: "There's not much you can do. He was on fire." — Spurs guard Tony Parker.

4. The Opener

James and the Heat went into Dallas on Christmas Day, watched the Mavericks raise the NBA championship banner that they earned at Miami's expense last season, then started this season with an absolute blowout. James finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists — no other player had totals like that in a game all season — and the Heat led by as many as 35 at one point before settling on a 105-94 victory.

Quotable: "It was showtime." — Heat guard Mario Chalmers.

3. The Statement

It was less than two weeks after the Heat went into Oklahoma City and got battered, so Miami needed a response when the Thunder came to Miami on April 4. The game is maybe best remembered for James getting pulled down by Russell Westbrook from behind on a fast break and taking an awkward tumble. He was fine, proving it by completing a 23-point first half with a jumper to give Miami the lead at the halftime buzzer, and finished with 34 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a 98-93 win.

Quotable: "King James isn't playing around." — New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, tweeting as he watched the game.

2. The Comeback

The Heat were playing out the string of the regular season when they visited New Jersey on April 16, and were trailing by five points with 5 minutes left against the lowly Nets when James took over. Miami scored 17 points the rest of the way — all by James, 15 of them coming in the final 3 minutes when he was 4-for-4 from the field, 7-for-7 from the line, and ensuring that the Heat would escape with a 101-98 win.

Quotable: "That guy, No. 6, he was pretty good going down the stretch. He was sensational. Obviously, he made every big play offensively. I believe it was 17 straight to close the game. That's what an MVP does." — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

1. The Dunk

A simple back-door lob pass from Dwyane Wade brought perhaps the moment of the season for James, who started his sprint on the right wing, leaped with his right arm outstretched, caught the ball and slammed it home — leapfrogging Chicago Bulls guard John Lucas III in the process. Lucas never saw James coming since he was looking toward the rim and at the ball, not at the 6-foot-8, 250-pound man flying toward him.

Quotable: "I just wanted to go get it." — James.

Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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