Three-time league MVP LeBron James finally has an NBA championship to add to his belt, after the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in game five of the 2012 NBA Finals.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals is set for Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET in Miami, where the Heat are seeking to close within one victory of a title and the Thunder are hoping to pull even at 2-2. How important is this game for Oklahoma City? No one has ever rallied to win the Finals after trailing 3-1 -- teams are 0-30 in that situation all time and 0-13 since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985. Join SI.com's Paul Forrester and Brad Weinstein as they live-blog Game 4 beginning at 8:45 p.m.
Russell Westbrook's impressive 43 points were not enough to end the Oklahoma City Thunder's losing streak in game four of this year's NBA finals.
A fierce late-game rally by the Oklahoma City Thunder proved fruitless Thursday night as the Miami Heat held out to win game two of the 2012 NBA Finals 100-96, tying the series, 1-1.
MIAMI -- If the Thunder are right, and if they're able to make good on their promise to break through in Game 4 Tuesday night, then this NBA Finals will be on its way to fulfilling its promise. It can become one of the most entertaining showdowns in recent memory, but that won't happen unless Oklahoma City responds to the elevated play of the Heat and LeBron James.
MIAMI -- The Oklahoma City Thunder may yet play in 10 NBA Finals and win six championships and lure NFL, NHL and MLB teams to Oklahoma City, but in the meantime, these guys are so young that when they cross the street somebody ought to hold their hand. Otherwise, Russell Westbrook will sprint into a parked car, and Kevin Durant will knock over a crossing guard, and Kendrick Perkins will just stand there and shake his head in disgust.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals is set for Sunday at 8 p.m. ET in Miami. Will the Thunder rebound from Thursday's loss, or will the Heat protect their home court and take a 2-1 series lead? Join SI.com's Ben Glicksman and Paul Forrester as they live blog Game 3 beginning at 7:45 p.m.
The NBA Finals are tied 1-1 after the Thunder and Heat split two games in Oklahoma City. With Game 3 set for Sunday night in Miami, five SI.com writers analyze the biggest storylines and surprises so far, examine which team is in a better position and take issue with the criticism of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Four thoughts after the Heat's 100-96 victory over the Thunder in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday ...
OKLAHOMA CITY -- "Resilient" is not a word most people use to describe the Miami Heat, but since I'm not allowed to repeat the words they do use, let's start with that one. In one of the toughest road venues in the NBA -- season on the line, world ready to pounce -- the Heat were tougher, stronger and just grittier than the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals is set for Thursday at 9 p.m. ET in Oklahoma City. Will the Thunder remain unbeaten at home in the postseason, or will the Heat bounce back to even the series? Join SI.com's Ben Glicksman and Paul Forrester as they live blog Game 2 beginning at 8:45 p.m.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were instrumental as Oklahoma City Thunder won the first game of the 2012 NBA Finals.
The Thunder's Kevin Durant says his team wants to win a title, while LeBron James feels more relaxed for the NBA Finals.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Three thoughts after Oklahoma City's 105-94 victory over Miami in Game 1 of the NBA Finals ...
Miami and Oklahoma City are playing for the championship in a series that features the MVP, LeBron James, the MVP runner-up and scoring champion, Kevin Durant, and a host of other stars. The Heat are back in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row as the 27-year-old James seeks his first title to cap his ninth season. Durant, 23, is also looking for his first ring, the five-year veteran having led the franchise to its first Finals appearance since 1996, when the Thunder played in Seattle. Game 1 is set for Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET in Oklahoma City. Which team will get off to a good start? Join SI.com's Ben Glicksman and Paul Forrester as they live blog the series opener beginning at 8:45 p.m.
Miami and Oklahoma City will play for the championship in a series that features the MVP, LeBron James, the MVP runner-up and scoring champion, Kevin Durant, and a host of other stars in the Heat's Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the Thunder's Russell Westbrook and Sixth Man Award winner James Harden. The Heat are back in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row as the 27-year-old James seeks his first title to cap his ninth season. Durant, 23, is also looking for his first ring, the five-year veteran having led the franchise to its first Finals appearance since 1996, when the Thunder played in Seattle. What can we expect once Game 1 tips off on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City? Five SI.com NBA writers analyze how each team got this far and what lies ahead in the Finals.
For the second time in as many years, LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates will get a shot at the NBA championship after beating the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
The Eastern Conference finals resume Tuesday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Celtics and Heat tied at 2-2. Miami returns home for Game 5 after losing twice in Boston, where Dwyane Wade missed a potential game-winning three-pointer in Game 4, the second game in this series to go to overtime. What have we learned so far and what's in store for the rest of the series? Four SI.com NBA writers make their predictions and analyze Chris Bosh's potential return, Rajon Rondo's brilliance and the highly scrutinized officiating.
The Spurs play host to the Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Monday (9 p.m. ET, TNT). The series is tied at 2-2 after both teams won twice on their home floor. How did we get here and what's in store for the rest of the series? Five SI.com NBA writers take stock of a matchup that is living up to its billing.
BOSTON -- The Celtics and Heat have spent the first three games of their Eastern finals exploring unpredictable ways that ended in the predictable results.
BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett changed the NBA two decades ago as a 6-11 power forward who played with the skills of a shooting guard. He launched a trend that has been emulated by his generation and its followers, but now, surprisingly, it looks like an elaborately extended con game. If the Celtics are to return to the NBA Finals in what may be Garnett's final month of basketball, they are going to need him to become the kind of low-post dinosaur that he and his kind worked so hard to replace.
MIAMI -- The Celtics are old, tired and injured. They were run off the floor in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals by the Heat, who are overwhelming favorites to reach a second straight NBA Finals. Yet Boston enters Game 2 on Wednesday with hope for better performances in the short term and a renewal of their dynasty in the long term around coach Doc Rivers.
The NBA will hold this year's lottery in New York City, instead of its traditional location in New Jersey, which ... well, let's face it: They could hold it in your backyard and if you felt a raindrop, you would go inside and watch it on TV. The location is not relevant. It is a TV event.
LeBron James is cocky. Kobe Bryant is a ball hog. Kevin Garnett is a thug. Dwight Howard got his coach fired. And Metta World Peace? Ugh, Metta World Peace.
The usual guidelines no longer appear to be relevant. The NBA postseason has become unusually unpredictable. What comes next may no longer be based on what happened before.
It is the growing sports epidemic of the 21st century, where being the best team in the regular season of any of the four major professional leagues has never meant so little for the postseason. In fact, not only are the trophy cases of such teams likely to be empty at playoffs' end, but these regular season champions are lucky if they get past their first playoff opponent.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James is the NBA's 2011-2012 Most Valuable Player.
For a season shortened by a lockout, the Knicks' felt like it lasted a lifetime. But the team's mercurial campaign was finally taken off life support Wednesday, when Miami overpowered New York for a 106-94 win and a 4-1 series victory.
The Los Angeles Lakers out-executed the Denver Nuggets down the stretch to claim a 92-88 road win at the Pepsi Center on Sunday, taking a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round series. Game 4 wasn't pretty, but it was a hard-fought, back-and-forth affair that featured 18 lead changes. The Lakers sealed it in the final minute, breaking an 86-86 tie with consecutive threes by a pair of unlikely closers in Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake.
ATLANTA -- Less than a minute away from blowing a 19-point lead and Game 1 at home, the Hawks got a much-needed bump from the unlikeliest of sources.
Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury on Saturday could turn out to be good news for one person: his replacement for Team USA's pool of finalists for this summer's Olympics in London.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama saluted Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks on Monday as NBA champions who staged a season-ending charge to beat LeBron James and the vaunted Miami Heat and claim their first title with a "heart that's the size of Texas."
Charles Barkley talks about the lockout and gives his predictions for the NBA season.
The NBA rewarded patient fans Sunday with an exciting game that kick-started a season delayed five months by a lockout.
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 5. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer.
After two tense games in St. Louis, the World Series resumes in Arlington on Saturday night with the Cardinals and Rangers tied at one game a piece. Of the last 18 World Series to open with a two-game split dating to 1969, the winner of Game 3 went on to win 16 of them, the two exceptions being the Orioles in 1979 and the Yankees in 2003. No other game in those 18 Series had nearly as strong a correlation with the eventual Series outcome. So, Saturday night's Game 3 is a big game for both teams, arguably the most important non-elimination game of the Series. The Rangers, who stole Game 2 with two runs in the top of the ninth, are looking to build on that sudden swing in momentum, while the Cardinals are hoping that Friday's day off and the change of scenery can help them shake off that dispiriting defeat. Of course, momentum in baseball is only as good as the next game's starting pitcher.
Fans in Dallas, Texas, celebrate the Mavericks' NBA championship victory.
The Mavericks are returning to the arena where they surrendered a 2-0 lead in the 2006 NBA Finals, and that's not a bad thing. Without those events, Dirk Nowitzki may not be in the position he is in today.
DALLAS -- Can Pat Riley get 1984 out of his head? We're not talking about the novel. We're talking about an enduring series that seems to be renewing itself now that the Mavericks have evened the NBA Finals with their 86-83 comeback victory against Miami in Game 4.
DALLAS -- It should go without saying that the Mavericks need to make a stand Tuesday in Game 4. They've yet to play a strong game overall in the NBA Finals, and they've still had chances to steal all three games.
After their stunning comeback victory in Game 2 of the Finals, the Mavericks look to maintain their momentum as the series shifts to Dallas for Game 3. SI.com's five NBA writers analyze the top storylines for each team heading into Sunday's matchup (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
I have a feeling about these Dallas Mavericks. I think it's finally their time. I know that's not the prevailing sentiment. The general consensus seems to be that the Miami Heat have finally figured out how to play together, how to finish close games properly, how to handle animosity they brought upon themselves with LeBron James' decision-with-a-capital-D and the absurdly premature, over-the-top welcoming celebration they threw for themselves that featured smoke and lasers and platforms rising up out of the stage and pretty much everything except Cirque du Soleil acrobats.
Every once in a while, a man has to say something controversial, no matter what people think. Be bold, defy convention, risk offending people. Today is my day. Are you ready? Here we go:
CHICAGO -- This is why there can be no doubt anymore of the Heat's championship potential. They came, they stunk, they won.
In the annals of sports marketing, there have been some sensational lousy ideas. A glowing hockey puck. A Disco Demolition Night. The XFL. Reebok's Dan and Dave campaign.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Here's a thought: Let's pretend Game 3 of the Western Conference finals never happened. It just never came to pass, kind of like the Rapture. We can all reconvene on Monday night at the Oklahoma City Arena and start fresh. The OKC Thunder would no doubt agree to that proposition, after an awful shooting performance Saturday night doomed them to a 93-87 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs obviously were satisfied with the result, which gave them a 2-1 series lead, but even they couldn't have been thrilled with another wobbly fourth quarter in which what had been a 23-point lead was whittled to four. That had to have brought back nightmarish memories of the 18-point lead they blew in a first-round playoff loss to Portland.
CHICAGO -- The Evil Empire doesn't exist.
The last time the Oklahoma City Thunder were in the second round, they were the Seattle SuperSonics. That was back in 2005, when San Antonio wiped them out in six games. The Thunder/Sonics franchise has not advanced past the second round since 1996.
CHICAGO -- After the Bulls' uninspired loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, many in NBA circles speculated that their youth was finally catching up to them. It was supposedly a classic case of inexperience wilting under pressure, a young team failing to live up to its high expectations.
BOSTON -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will try to play with one good arm, and backup Delonte West will try to overcome an injured left shoulder. Shaquille O'Neal will try to massage his injured leg into shape for another 8-12 minutes, and Paul Pierce will try to push through the variety of injuries he appears to be suffering.
Old NBA Axiom No. 101 holds that a playoff series doesn't start until the road team wins a game.
Nearly three hours before the end of this Lakers era would draw near, one of the last Phil Jackson prodigies sat at his locker in a moment of self-reflection.
The Lakers have been my default choice to reach the NBA Finals. I'd been assuming we'd see them meet either the Celtics or Heat in June, a dreamy matchup that would build on the tremendous following the league has been creating all season.
CHICAGO -- Minutes before tip-off of Game 2 against Atlanta, Derrick Rose was presented the MVP trophy at midcourt, the youngest player to win the NBA's most coveted honor. Chants of "M-V-P" bellowed from the rafters. The United Center rattled with anticipation. "In a league of very valuable players, you are the most valuable," commissioner David Stern offered upon handing over the award.
NEW YORK -- Ah, now this is how it's supposed to be. Madison Square Garden is rocking. The Knicks, chasing their first postseason win in a decade, are storming back against the powerful Boston Celtics. Spike Lee, an Easter vision in Knicks-orange porkpie hat and matching scarf, is exhorting the crowd. From another courtside seat, famously inscrutable (not to mention nearly invisible) owner James Dolan is excited ... well, maybe, more like interested ... well, maybe more like ... look, he appears to have a pulse, OK?
The New Orleans Hornets have discovered the formula for defeating the Los Angeles Lakers: have Chris Paul deliver a superhuman performance. On Sunday night, the star point guard did just that for the second time this series. He finished with game highs of 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists to lead the Hornets to a 93-88 Game 4 victory that tied their first-round series at 2-2. It's a fairly stunning development for the seemingly undermanned Hornets, who are playing without leading scorer David West, especially after the defending champs seemed to be in command after a road win in Game 3 on Friday. But now the Lakers find themselves in a dogfight and must hope that Kobe Bryant is OK to play in Game 5 on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Celtics-Heat. Coming soon to a television screen near you.
There was a time when Brandon Roy routinely carried the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter and made opponents understand that no lead was safe. Way back in, oh, last season. But the hobbled 26-year-old, who struggled through the first three quarters against Dallas in Game 4 on Saturday, looked like a spry 25-year-old again while leading the most remarkable comeback story -- for a player and a team -- of the NBA playoffs up to this point as Portland rallied from a 23-point deficit to top the Mavericks, 84-82, and even the series.
The NBA gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening. That's why the owners are now quarreling among themselves over how much money the richest markets should be sharing with the less rich, and why the "less attractive" franchises want the next collective bargaining agreement to provide them with a better opportunity to hold on to talents like LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Deron Williams.
You may have seen this movie before: The Chicago Bulls trailed with 5:20 left, only to rally behind Derrick Rose (who scored 14 fourth-quarter points) to notch a 96-90 Game 2 victory and take a 2-0 series lead over the gutsy Indiana Pacers on Monday. Rose, led the way with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists, as the 62-win Bulls once again struggled to overcome the 37-win Pacers.
My annual review of money and how it has been spent finds a total of approximately $2.03 billion was obligated to the players, which, by my count, amounts to a reduction of $82.3 million in player salaries since last season.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder weren't content with just being top-tier playoff contenders, swapping starters Thursday in a surprising deadline deal.
There hasn't been a lot of trade talk -- apart from the just-completed 'Melo-drama -- because of uncertainty about the next collective bargaining agreement. Many GMs are reticent to gamble in normal times, but in this pre-lockout climate they can't be sure how the new CBA will affect their business. The last thing they want to do is make a major move that turns out to have an unexpectedly negative impact next year, especially with every owner watching finances so closely amid the negotiations with the players union.
This is a terrible admission, but it's fun to write about losers. While covering a bad team over the course of a season is a drag -- kind of like having a lingering sore throat and raspy cough -- stopping in to sample relentless, mind-numbing, appalling atrociousness on a temporary basis is a pleasant diversion.
The first year of the second decade of the new millennium is chugging to a close. Here's what I'm looking forward to in 2011.
Fans react to LeBron James' return to Cleveland as a Miami Heat player.
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Nov. 29. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer.
Ron Artest tells CNN's Larry King he's raffling off his championship ring to help raise money to fight mental illness.
Once again I've empaneled a half-dozen NBA advance and personnel scouts to predict the standings and champion for the 2010-11 season. These are the same league experts who have broken down all 30 teams in exhaustive detail for our annual scouting reports in this week's magazine, with their full reports to be posted on SI.com Friday.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant talks to CNN's Pedro Pinto about rivals Miami Heat ahead of the new NBA season.
The Boston Celtics were staggering in the spring of 1983. They were only two years removed from a championship season and had Hall of Fame-bound superstars Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Incredibly, they were swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.
He may be switching teams, but the hoopster's still the same person, he tells PEOPLE
Here's an early look at the top of the Western Conference, focusing on teams that can win 50 games or more next season. This list does not include the Phoenix Suns, who won 54 games last season and reached the Western Conference finals. My view is that adding Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress will not be enough to make up for the loss of Amar'e Stoudemire. (Click here for an overview of the East contenders.)
Here is an early -- but not premature -- look at how the top of the Eastern Conference shapes up for next season now that most of the important trades and signings have been made. The following teams are capable of winning 50 games.
BOSTON (AP) -The Shrek and Donkey show is returning to Boston for another performance.
Rev. Jesse Jackson gets fired up over Dan Gilbert's comments about LeBron James' move.
NBA star LeBron James goes to Miami after announcing his long-awaitied decision to join the Miami Heat. WPLG reports.
BOSTON (AP) -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers will return for another season, staying with the team he led to the NBA finals twice in three years for a run at another championship.
The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans celebrate their 16th championship with a parade through downtown LA.
With the Los Angeles Lakers repeating as NBA champs, the sports world changes seasons. The US Open concludes at historic Pebble Beach this weekend. The College World Series opens in Omaha, Nebraska, for the last time at Rosenblatt Stadium. Countries try to advance to the knockout round in the World Cup in South Africa, and could a major-league pitcher be named MVP for the first time since 1992?
LOS ANGELES -- The two best words in the language, besides perhaps world peace, are Game 7. Add Lakers-Celtics to the sentence, along with NBA Finals, and you have arguably the most alluring concoction in sports.
Celtics-Lakers stories from the SI Vault
LOS ANGELES -- The tweet was posted early Friday morning, just hours after the Lakers lost 96-89 to the Celtics in Game 4.
BOSTON -- By his standards, Paul Pierce had a ragged season. He injured his right knee, his left foot and his right thumb. He played hurt, played poorly and, for stretches, did not play much at all. He was shut down in the Eastern Conference semifinals, smothered by LeBron James, and he re-emerged in the conference finals, freed by Vince Carter. When the NBA Finals began, he was as much a wild card as the guy who was tabbed to defend him, Ron Artest. But two days before Game 1, in a practice at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, Celtics coach Doc Rivers issued a warning to anybody who was sleeping on his best scorer: "We don't think that's very smart," he said.
BOSTON -- Andrew Bynum's right knee, and all of the rim-protecting and low-post scoring skills it supports and enables, threatens to be crucial to Game 5, which in turn is crucial to the outcome of the NBA Finals.
As the World Cup -- football to everyone outside the U.S. -- gets under way in South Africa, U.S. football grabs its own headlines more than two months before the season starts. Will pitchers keep dominating and making history in baseball? And who will step up in Game 5 of the NBA Finals? Here are some things to keep you looped in on the sports conversation this weekend.
BOSTON -- He beat one Celtic, only to find another and another converging upon him. Derek Fisher took into account the clock (50 seconds remaining) and the score (a four-point lead for his Lakers) within the heartbeat of a single dribble. In that twitch of a moment, he drew upon 14 glorious seasons that were never supposed to be as he gauged the rewards and risks and needs of those who have grown to depend on him. Then he went for it.
Every year around this time, for as much as we are reminded that legendary careers are validated with a championship, we also are reminded that greatness isn't solely defined by success in the Finals. Players such as Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley, whose statistics and playoff appearances and All-Star votes leave little doubt as to their places in history, are often remembered in June for the honor they didn't achieve, as if their careers are not complete without the hardware that places a stamp on their greatness.
LOS ANGELES -- I hate to sound like an old gasbag claiming that things were always better back in the day ...
LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't always pretty, but 22 lead changes, 11 ties and a superhuman shooting night from Ray Allen later and the Celtics have pulled even in this series, grinding out a 103-94 victory over the Lakers.
The Lakers-Celtics rivalry is one of the most heated in sports, especially when you consider the stakes. This year's Finals marks the 12th time the league's two most decorated franchises have met to decide the title. The rivalry that began under Eisenhower and passed through JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan and Bush II now includes Obama.
Armando Galarraga's perfect game that wasn't, and Roy Halladay's that was, headlined a history-making week in sports.
Two-time NBA MVP LeBron James says the Cleveland Cavaliers -- his only club in his seven pro seasons -- will have an "edge" when they try to keep the likely free-agent-to-be from leaving this summer.
For his 25th Anniversary, Larry King talks to basketball's LeBron James. See the full interview Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
In the moments after the Lakers beat the Suns to advance to the NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant was asked several questions about the Boston Celtics' and extra motivation. He was asked about playing the Celtics in the wake of the beating the Lakers took in Boston in 2008.
The Indianapolis 500 is this weekend, and unless you grew up in the Hoosier State or in a garage, you may not know it.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Glen Davis tried to stand up. His legs churned sleepily as his feet slipped under him and he fell forward onto his shoulders like a bull collapsing in the ring. He was the latest victim of Dwight Howard.
ORLANDO -- Is this series about to deliver on its great expectations?