MIAMI — LeBron James is the MVP of the NBA Finals.
James finished with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in Game 5 of the title series Thursday night, leading the Miami Heat to a 121-106 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Miami won the second title in franchise history, and James won for the first time in three finals appearances.
James and 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.
Asked Thursday what the title meant, James said, "It means everything."
JONES CONSIDERING RETIREMENT: Heat swingman James Jones is a "calculated" person.
In his words, he never backtracks once he makes a decision. Jones will have a big one to make once the season ends. Winning an NBA title this season could potentially push him toward retirement. After nine seasons, Jones, 31, is at a point where he is thinking post-basketball.
"Most definitely," Jones said of possibly retiring after this season. "I've been going for the last two years. I didn't have a summer off coming off an injury. Then with the NBA lockout and the collective bargaining stuff, it's been a 24-month grind for me."
THUNDER MIRROR STRUGGLE OF HEAT: One of the primary lessons these NBA Finals have reinforced is that winning the championship is not simply about winning four games, it's a process that must be mastered.
The difficulty of that has been evident with the Thunder, just as it was for the Heat last year in their first Finals with the Big Three. Despite all of their talent, led by two bonafide superstars, and their impressive run through the best of the West, the Thunder have struggled with their initial Finals experience — like many previous upstart finalists.
Before Game 5 on Thursday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said the Thunder seemed uncertain who their closer was, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook, and observed that the Thunder's Big Three haven't performed at the level they did in previous rounds of the playoffs.
Wasn't the same being said about the Heat and their three stars in last year's Finals?
The Thunder were a deflated bunch after Tuesday's loss in Game 4. No wonder, considering they had an early 17-point lead and got 43 points from Westbrook — and still lost. Earlier in the series they put themselves in early deficits by getting off to slow starts.
PROMISE FULFILLED FOR HEAT FANS: As the Miami Heat's lead skyrocketed Thursday night from 5 just after halftime to an insurmountable 24 by the end of the third quarter, their fans outside the AmericanAirlines Arena decided it was time to celebrate the team's second NBA championship in six years.
The thousands gathered in bars, restaurants and a park near the arena screamed in joy late Thursday as the Heat dropped one 3-pointer after another. Fans used the fourth quarter to get an early start on their party.
The promise made to South Florida fans 23 months earlier when James and Chris Bosh added their talents to Dwyane Wade's had arrived.
"We're bringing the championship home to Miami. LeBron promised us a ring and he got us our ring," said Ivine Mulkey, 32.
Orlando Hernandez, 33, noted it had been a team effort, with major Game 5 contributions coming from supporting players Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.
"This is the best game they've ever had — the best final. It's unbelievable how they stepped up. It's not just one person. It's everybody," Hernandez said.
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