MIAMI -- LeBron James says the Heat's 2013 title, the second of his career, was a more difficult run than his first.
"Last year, when I was sitting up here with my first championship, I said it was the toughest thing I had ever done," James said after leading the Heat past the Spurs 95-88 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. "This year, I'll tell last year he's absolutely wrong. This was the toughest championship right here, between the two."
The Heat went 46-20 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and 16-7 during the playoffs, beating the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals before defeating the Thunder in five games in the Finals. This season, Miami won a league-best 66 games and finished 16-7 in the playoffs, needing seven games to defeat the Pacers in the conference finals and another seven to finally triumph over the Spurs.
Miami was in position to capture the title Thursday only after a dramatic comeback from a five-point deficit late in regulation of its Game 6 victory Tuesday. The Heat also alternated wins and losses throughout the entire conference finals and through the first six games of the Finals.
"Everything that we've been through this postseason, especially in these Finals, to be down," James said. "We were down every odd game. We were down 1-0. We tied it. We were able to take a lead, but then we were down. We were scratching for our lives in Game 6, down five with 28 seconds to go. To be able to win that game and force a Game 7 is a true testament to our perseverance. Us being able to handle adversity throughout everything."
James finished with a game-high 37 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, hitting a crucial late jumper to seal the championship. "It feels great," James said. "This team is amazing. The vision that I had when I decided to come here is all coming true. Through adversity, through everything, we've been able to persevere and win back-to-back championships. It's an unbelievable feeling. I'm happy to be part of such a first-class organization."