MIAMI – After years of doubt, debate, derision and Decision, LeBron James has a ring.
He received it in a loud, sparkling ceremony before the 2013 NBA season opener against the Boston Celtics, in front of a packed crowd of early-arriving Heat fans. He watched the entire Heat coaching staff and all his teammates receive their rings from commissioner David Stern, his hands on his hips all the while, and then finally it was his turn.
When his name was announced, James raised two hands, then pointed at the fans inside American Airlines Arena before striding to meet Stern at center court with a broad smile on his face. The commissioner gave him a lengthy word of congratulations, and the 2012 MVP was left for a split-second to look at a championship ring many – including his former owner in Cleveland – hoped he'd never win in Miami.
[Photos: LeBron and Co. get their rings]
James' teammates surrounded him and looked at the jewelry, both theirs and his. The ring, which took five weeks to make, includes 219 diamonds, three custom cut onyx stones and weighs 115 grams. James took it out of its glass-covered case and showed it around as "We Are The Champions" played and the Heat raised its second championship banner in six years.
Then it was time to play the Boston Celtics, the team the Heat defeated 4-3 in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, and start a run for another title. Some will only laud James if and when he wins several titles, and some won't approve of him at all. But those who felt he could never lead a team to an NBA championship are now just as silent as American Airlines Arena was loud on Tuesday night.
James is, in at least one crucial sense, a winner.
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