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September 24, 2017

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Heat beat Thunder, clinch NBA title

MIAMI -- LeBron James can finally add NBA champion to his resume, alongside best player in the game, after leading the Miami Heat to the title on Thursday with a 121-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, taking the finals series 4-1.

James finally got his hands on the championship that had long eluded him in Cleveland and in last year's finals series defeat. He scored 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.

Chris Bosh added 23 points and Dwyane Wade scored 20 points as the Heat's "Big Three" were showered in championship confetti that most had expected since they were brought together in Miami two years ago.

Regarded by many as the NBA's best player in the game for several years, James has belatedly become part of the best team.

"It's about damn time. It's about damn time," James said moments after the win.

"It means everything. I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland but I understood what my future was about ... I knew we had a bright future (in Miami). This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off."

He left the game along with Wade and Bosh for good with 3:01 remaining for a round of hugs and the start for a celebration he's been waiting for since arriving in the NBA out of high school as the No. 1 pick of the 2003 draft.

James hopped up and down in the final minutes, shared a long hug with opponent Kevin Durant, and watched the confetti rain down from the rafters.

"Happiest day of my life," he said.

The Heat took control in the second quarter, briefly lost it and blew it open again in the third behind their role players, James content to pass to wide-open 3-point shooters while the Thunder focused all their attention on him.

Miami also got a huge boost from Mike Miller, who made seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points.

The disappointment of losing to Dallas in six games last year vanished in a blowout of the demoralized Thunder, who got 32 points and 11 rebounds from Durant.

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