The Associated Press contributed reporting.
The Los Angeles Lakers have won their 17th NBA championship.
The Western Conference champions beat the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, securing their first championship win since 2010.
The Lakers clinched the title after a down-to-the-wire battle at Friday’s Game 5, when the Heat staved off elimination in a last-minute win. It comes after a tumultuous 74th NBA season that started almost a year ago. The league was brought to a standstill by the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but restarted in late July in an isolated bubble at Orlando’s Walt Disney World.
LeBron James won his 4th Finals MVP award, making him the first player in NBA history to do so with three different teams.
This season, for James and the Lakers, had it all. And it ended in the only fashion that they deemed would be acceptable, with them back atop the basketball world.
It’s the Lakers first time as NBA champions since Kobe Bryant’s fifth and final title a decade ago. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.
Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the enormous anguish that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World.
With that, the league’s bubble chapter, put together after a 4 1/2-month suspension of play that started March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, is over. So, too, is a season that saw the league and China get into political sparring, the death on Jan. 1 of commissioner emeritus David Stern — the man who did so much to make the league what it is — and then the shock on Jan. 26 that came with the news that Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash.
The Lakers said they were playing the rest of the season in his memory.