The 2012-2013 season was owned by LeBron James, plain and simple. In his third season with the Miami Heat, LeBron nearly swept every possible major award you could win if you were a professional basketball player. He was a champion during the regular season, as well as the postseason. He was recognized by the NBA and media for his efforts, but one player spoiled his near perfection.
Memphis Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol wasn’t going to let LeBron win everything. Gasol had a special year himself, which included leading the Grizzlies to their first-ever Conference Finals in franchise history. Simply put, it was all smiles until Gasol stole something from LeBron. Altogether, it was probably the best season LeBron ever played in his professional basketball career.
2013 NBA Champion
What the Heat did in the postseason is borderline legendary. The Heat’s overtime win over the Spurs in Game 6 gave the Heat a .889 postseason winning percentage in overtime games, which was considered an NBA record. The Heat also set records for double-digit wins in the postseason, but LeBron individually had a special postseason, which led to him winning his second title and Finals MVP.
LeBron scored over 30 points in Game 6 and Game 7 of the NBA Finals, which made him the first player in NBA history to score consecutive 30 point games to rally a team from a 3-2 deficit. In Game 6, his 32-point, 10 rebounds, and 11 assist game marked the 15th time he ever recorded 25 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in the postseason, tying him with Oscar Robertson. In Game 7, his 37 point effort was the fourth straight time he scored at least 30 points in a game 7, tying Elgin Baylor as the only player to ever accomplish that feat. His 34.4 points per game in Game 7s are currently an NBA record.
2013 Finals MVP
Clearly, LeBron’s performance in the Finals was legendary, which is why he was awarded his second straight Finals MVP. Even in the losses, LeBron did everything he could to will his team to a victory. For example, in a Game 1 loss, LeBron finished with a triple-double of 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.
His Game 6 and Game 7 performances will go down in NBA lore as some of the best basketball play in crunch time. Many like to circle back to the game-tying three-pointer by Ray Allen as a scapegoat to LeBron’s greatness. The fact of the matter is that LeBron did things that only legends Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor have ever accomplished. His Game 7 alone should prove that he deserved Finals MVP.
2013 NBA MVP
LeBron was selected as the league MVP as well. His 19.3 win shares led the entire league, as well as his 14.6 offensive win shares. According to Basketball-Reference, his offensive rating per 100 possessions that season (125) was the highest of his career. Just when you think you are seeing greatness, the 2012-2013 year was potentially the best offensive year he ever displayed.
The Heat clinched the division by 22 games over the second-place Hawks. The team was the No. 1 seed in the East by 12 games over the Knicks. The MVP was on a different level this season, which is why he was named the best in the league.
27-Game Winning Streak
The 2012-2013 season was the 25th season in franchise history and was the first year that the Heat’s “Big Three” of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were given to defend their NBA championship. During the season, the Heat embarked on a 27-game winning streak, which at the time, was the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. By the end of the year, the heat finished with a 66-16 overall record.
On March 8th, 2013, the Heat defeated the 76ers to become the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth. At the time, the streak was at 17 games. Then, two days later, the Heat defeated the Pacers, which clinched the Heat defeating every NBA organization during the season. The following week, LeBron hit a game-winning shot over Brandon Bass to clinch the Southeast Division to bump the streak to 23.
Two days later, the Heat overcame a league-high 27-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Cavaliers. Eventually, the Heat fell to the Chicago Bulls 101-97 on March 27 to see the streak snapped.
All-NBA First Team
Even without the win streak, the combination of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh was voted to the All-Star Game. The game, which was held in February, was right around when the win streak started. The month of March was even more dazzling, as the Heat went 17-1, becoming the first team to win 17 games in a single calendar month in NBA history.
Outside of the streak, LeBron had a great year statistically. He averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.7 steals. He was selected to the All-NBA First Team, but also the All-Defensive First Team as well.
All-Defensive First Team
Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen led the league in votes for the All-Defensive First Team, while LeBron was just one vote away. Allen totaled 53 votes, while LeBron finished with 52. However, each player received 25 First Team votes. In addition to leading the Heat to 66 wins, he recorded 17 games of at least three steals and 10 games of at least two steals and two blocks.
2nd In DPOY - Marc Gasol Win DPOY Despite Not Making All-Defensive First Team
When you put everything together, LeBron led a historic winning streak, made All-NBA and All-Defense, won the MVP, a Finals MVP, and a championship. What else could you possibly ask for during a year like this? When looking back, LeBron finished second to Marc Gasol in Defensive Player of the Year. The controversy is that Gasol was named All-Defensive Second Team, while LeBron made the First Team.
According to advanced stats, Gasol beat out LeBron in defensive win shares 5.1 to 4.7. That is not a big margin. Per 100 possessions, Gasol’s defensive rating (98) was lower than LeBron’s (101). LeBron even averaged more defensive rebounds than Gasol that season. According to the numbers, LeBron should have finished the year with a season sweep of the awards.
In the end, LeBron did everything right. From the regular season to the postseason, LeBron found a way to put the team on his back. It’s not uncommon for a player to not sweep all the major awards, but it’s absolutely surprising that Gasol was named DPOY for this reason.
It was the second straight year that a player from the All-Defensive First Team didn’t win DPOY, following 2012 winner Tyson Chandler, who was named to the Second Team. Since 1996, only two players, Chandler and Gasol, have won the DPOY when not named to the First Team. There’s a good case that Tony Allen deserved to win the award, but either way, LeBron neared perfection this season. He was nearly as perfect as Michael Jordan. The fact of the matter is that we didn’t appreciate it as much because our hearts were filled with hate for the 2010 “decision.”
Credit for the idea: Statline
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