Glory for LeBron, more heartbreak for Rose

Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:09pm EST
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - LeBron James cementing his status as one of the all-time best players, another devastating injury to Derrick Rose and a once-unthinkable power shift in Los Angeles all occurred during basketball's memorable 2013.

The year also will be remembered for a series of "lasts" for outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern and a Canadian making history as the top pick in the NBA Draft.

After facing loads of criticism for past playoff failures, James inched his way up the list of all-time greats by leading the Miami Heat to a second consecutive NBA championship in June and putting his team on the verge of becoming a dynasty.

While not always at his best in the 2013 playoffs, James raised his game when it mattered most, scoring a game-high 37 points and adding 12 rebounds in a championship-clinching victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the decisive seventh game of the NBA Finals.

"For me, I can't worry about what everybody says about me. I'm LeBron James, from Akron, Ohio. From the inner city. I'm not even supposed to be here," James, a two-time Finals MVP, said after the victory. "That's enough.

"Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a No. 6 with James on the back. I'm blessed. So what everybody say about me off the court don't matter. I ain't got no worries."

For Stern, 2013 was a victory lap of sorts after having previously announced his decision to step down as the longest-tenured commissioner in professional sports.

Stern, 71, will retire in February after 30 years on the job, a period during which he oversaw strong revenue growth, expansion to 30 teams from 23, a movement into small markets like Oklahoma City and Memphis and helped grow the game on a global basis.   Continued...

Dec 8, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) shoots during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports - RTX16AFZ