Champagne flowed, music pulsated and joy washed over the euphoric Heat locker room into the wee hours Friday morning, players jumping on seats, dancing to the rhythmic beats and relishing every moment.
Amid the merry mayhem, members of the Heat family and their loved ones paused for reflection:
For owner Micky Arison, winning in Dallas in 2006 was great, but to do it in front of your home fans is the greatest feeling in the world. To get behind three series in a row this is unbelievable! I thought we were the better team last year, but we werent ready.
These playoffs, Arison said, were the biggest rollercoaster ride I can ever remember, down 1-2 to Indiana, and everybody saying were too small now that Chris Bosh was out. Down 3-2 to Boston, everybody wrote us off. I got thousands of tweets trade this, fire this. Lets wait until its all done and then see whos smiling.
Mike Miller, whose seven three-pointers were the most ever by a non-starter in a Finals game, eyeballed Arison afterward, and I told him, You have the worlds greatest timing! Arison said.
So much contribution Norris Cole. Shane Battier was huge. Everybody kept saying were a two-man team or three-man team. Well, which team was a two-man team? Oklahoma City is an amazing team; theyre going to have a lot of opportunities for this.
And what about LeBron James? LeBrons the best! Arison said. Hes gotten so much crap and he doesnt deserve it. I dont care where [people] live, they should enjoy his special talents. Game 6 in Boston may have been the greatest performance Ive ever seen. Hes amazing.
Dwyane Wade had an up-and-down playoffs, but when it counted, he was there, Arison said. He had a great game in Indiana. We needed it.
Did the world root against this team? I never believed that, going around the country, seeing Heat jerseys every where I went, places like the Philippines and China, Arison said. It felt sometimes like all the national media was against us. I felt [people] appreciated what unique talent we have on this team, not just LeBron. This was a special team to watch.
Hes a warrior
There was Jennifer Miller, standing on her husbands locker seat, soaking in the moment while Mike ambled around the arena, posing for pictures and doing interviews.
Hes a warrior, a great player, and it was such a time coming for him, Jennifer Miller beamed on a night Miller drained seven three-pointers, one less than Ray Allens NBA Finals record. His mom and I were holding each other crying.
She knows her husbands back causes him some pain. But he wont tell me how much. Getting out of bed, hes like, Argh! Every time I say, Are you OK? he says, Im fine. I tell him to stop grimacing because I cant take it anymore in the stands!
In the bowels of the arena, Miller speaks about his roller-coaster two-year Heat tenure up and down, but worth every minute of it. Through the injuries, Im just glad they didnt take me back to the barn and put me down.
He doesnt know if he is retiring at 32. He needs back surgery, but its difficult to envision any athlete walking away from $18.6 million left on a guaranteed contract.
Ive got to make the best decision for everybody involved, not only myself but the team, and make sure Im not a liability, he said. Well visit the doctors and see what parts work and dont and go from there. If it is [the end], I couldnt picture a better point to go out on top like this.
Actress Gabrielle Union stood on boyfriend Dwyane Wades locker and put it all in perspective. This, she said, was the game I wanted him to play. When he got in early foul trouble, he didnt hang his head.
What do you most admire about Dwyane?
His resilience, she said. Everybody makes mistakes in life. He doesnt make the same mistake twice. Were all just so supportive, whether thats his mom, me and his dad. Everyone who loves him. He never makes excuses, hes never going to complain, hes going to get back.
And then, a playful jab: Sometimes I wish he would get back a little sooner defensively.
Wade couldnt fall asleep until 4 a.m. the night before the game, then awoke and called James at 8 a.m.
What they wanted to do more than anything was to play a complete game, Union said. They kept saying, We havent played a complete game yet. We have defensive lapses. We have offensive lapses. For them to play such an amazing, complete game was a beautiful thing to watch.
Mike Miller was an assassin! Shane Battier has been an assassin! [Mario Chalmers] is like the baby Ive never had. For Chalmy to step up the way he did, unbelievable. After all the negativity and all the haters, they didnt win today!
Union then mentioned the poor man that was a survivor of the bath salt attack [Ronald Poppo]. When they said, Anything you want to say? He said, Lets go, Heat. Its about surviving and living for the next moment. If that man did not personify that, nothing will. Real Heat fan. When Charles Barkley said we dont have real Heat fans, point to that man. We have real Heat fans.
There was Udonis Haslem, whos the happiest man in the world who willingly gave up $14 million the difference between what Dallas and Denver offered him in 2010, compared to the five-year, $20 million deal he signed to stay in Miami.
We rolled the dice, we sacrificed to come here, and it all paid off, he said. Our character showed.
Haslem and Wade were the only players on both the Heats 06 Heat championship team and this one. But this title is way better, 10 times better, Haslem said, because of all weve been through. It felt all the time like the world was against this Heat team. LeBrons postseason was similar to what we got from D-Wade in 06.
We got better
Standing in the middle of the blissful bedlam was Shane Battier, who noted that after Chris Boshs injury, it took a 215-pound power forward speaking of his move from small forward.
Indiana tried to out-tough us. Boston tried to out-kick us. We were supposed to kneel by the end. We were not going to be denied once we got here. We got better with every game. We always figured it out.
Battier, who won an NCAA title at Duke, waited 11 years for an NBA one. You never think its going to happen to you, he said. But thats why I wanted to come here. All I wanted was a chance.
His first title
Cavorting about the locker room was Juwan Howard, exulting and dancing, redness in his eyes and passion in his voice, speaking emotionally not about himself, but LeBron.
I dont know what people will say now, Howard said. Hes done everything! Now, what are they going to try to beat him up about? What did he do wrong this time? Hes LeBron James, world champion! Give the guy a break. Everybody wrote us off, like we werent going to win the big one.
For Howard, it was first championship of an 18-year career, ending one of the leagues longest droughts. (Kevin Willis needed 19 years to win his first title.) Hes also the first member of Michigans famous Fab Five college team to win a ring. ESPNs Jalen Rose, another member of that Fab Five team, came into the locker room after the game to give Howard a tearful embrace.
I gave Juwan a hug, Arison said, and I told him, The irony of the commissioner voiding that [Heat] deal, I dont know, 15 years ago, and for you to win a championship here. The Fab Five finally got one!
Far more significantly, LeBron finally got one.
The King, Shaquille ONeal said on the AmericanAirlines floor afterward, has finally been coronated.