My favorite NBA stories of 2012
The motivation had been building from months and years of booings and catcalls and ridicule. James, at 27, was arguably the most gifted player the game had ever seen, yet he was still seeking the first of the seven or more championships he had promised on behalf of Miami. In the third minute he came up from behind everyone to dunk as hard as he could; a second dunk appeared to punish the rim for all of James' big shots that had been rejected over the last couple of years. He made 12 of his first 13 shots to dash the Celtics' hopes, and most of his scoring was generated mundanely from postups or jump shots or blue-collar moves meant to draw nothing more than fouls. It was a game that James could not afford to lose; by winning it the way he did, he would change the outlook of his career. Years from now they'll be focusing on this breakthrough performance -- even more so than the championship James would clinch two weeks later. For me it will go down with Jordan's 63 points and Doug Flutie's Hail Mary as one of the most remarkable events I've ever attended.