When LeBron James took to the floor in Game Six of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, he did so with the greatest of expectations and the lowest of hopes from the basketball-watching world. In an instant, he reminded everyone of why he is considered the greatest player on the planet, why he was voted MVP, why he is singularly devastating. With the Heat down 3-2 in the series to the Boston Celtics, facing all manner of upheaval if the ball didn't bounce in their favor at the TD Garden, LeBron did everything in his power to make sure it did.
The three-time MVP scored 45 points (on 19-of-26 shooting), grabbed 15 rebounds and dropped five dimes in 45 minutes during an epic, coming-of-age performance against the Celtics, who had his number (and were deep inside his head) since his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James' effort, which included lockdown defense on long-time nemesis Paul Pierce (nine points on 4-of-18 shooting), propelled the Heat to a 98-79 win and shifted momentum in Miami's favor heading into an all-important Game 7.
Chris Bosh shook his head in disbelief. “The best I’ve seen; one of the best this league has ever seen,” he said after his teammate’s surreal night.
Pat Riley walked through the corridor of TD Garden leading to the locker rooms, nodding. “He was just so dialed in,” the Miami Heat patriarch began. “Maybe I should give him one of those old phones.”
The Miami Heat would go on to dominate Game 7 at home, 101-88, advancing to the NBA Finals and winning the 2011-12 NBA championship.