Heat celebrate NBA title with raucous fans

AFP, MIAMI

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - Page 19

Music boomed, confetti rained down and strobe lights beamed through billowing smoke as Miami’s NBA team celebrated their second consecutive championship with a parade through the downtown on Monday.

Players, coaches and personnel rode on buses and trucks through the streets, including along Biscayne Boulevard to the American Airlines Arena for a rally.

“It’s a grind to be able to win a championship,” superstar LeBron James told the crowd. “When you do it with some great teammates ... it doesn’t seem so bad. The main thing is championships, and that’s all that matters.”

The Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 on Thursday to collect their third title in franchise history. Last season, they beat Oklahoma City for the title.

Miami became the sixth franchise to win consecutive NBA championships and next season will attempt to become the first club to win three straight since the Los Angeles Lakers did it, beginning in 2000.

James, who won the Most Valuable Player award for the second consecutive year, and his teammates used water guns to spay the raucous crowds lining the city streets.

“It took nine months of incredible sacrifice by everybody in our organization,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s incredible. It was the toughest competition.”

James was introduced as part of Miami’s marquee trio that also includes Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Wade has played on all three of Miami’s championship teams.

“To be here celebrating my third championship, who would have thought it?” Wade said. “This one is special. I know the category it puts me in. I know how hard it was to get to this point. To now be here celebrating our third championship is phenomenal.”

“It was so much hard work,” Bosh said. “It was one of the most challenging years we ever had. We came to work every day, knowing what we had to do to accomplish our goal. I can’t believe we did it. I’m just a guy on this team playing his part.”

Veteran Ray Allen received one of the loudest cheers.

The former Boston Celtic stroked a clutch three-pointer in the waning seconds of Game 6 to force overtime.

“There were so many moments down the stretch that allowed that shot to happen,” Allen said.

“After Game 7, I can say that shot is the biggest one I hit in my career,” he said.