Lake Buena Vista
The ultimate anguish. The ultimate joy.
This season, for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, had it all. And it ended in the only fashion that they deemed would be acceptable, with them back atop the basketball world.
For the first time since Kobe Bryant's fifth and final title a decade ago, the Lakers are NBA champions. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday night to win the NBA Finals in six games.
"Our organisation wants their respect. Laker Nation wants their respect," James said.
"And I want my damn respect, too."
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 in a bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from the coronavirus.
It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win.
"We have a Ph.D in adversity, I'll tell you that much," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which got 12 points from Jimmy Butler - the player who, in his first Heat season, got the team back to title contention. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points for the Lakers.
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.
They delivered what Bryant did five times for LA - a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.