LeBron gets ring, Miami Heat get win | Video

On a night the Heat celebrated their title, they started with a win

MIAMI - Finally, at the end, in his last moment without a championship ring, LeBron James broke into the kind of forever smile that he left AmericanAirlines Arena with last spring.

This was Tuesday night before the new season began, before the Heat pummeled Boston, 120-107. And already the entrance music was cheer after cheer, chant upon chant, as the players received their rings for last season's title.

In a region where the Heat have become the hottest sports ticket, the face of the franchise again was LeBron, even as he watched his teammates introduced for their rings before him with a businessman's stare. No reaction. No expression.

Then his name was announced, and his face lit up. He whirled around with an arm up high, sprouting the No. 1 sign on his index finger. The crowd chanted, "M-V-P! M-V-P!"

There are so many remarkable statistics attached to LeBron's career, so many numbers that jumped out last year. But this first ring given in this ceremony is the one that stands out.

"I hope this is one of many,'' the Heat's owner, Micky Arison, said in handing him the ring at mid-court.

This was the celebration LeBron wanted, not the one America mocked him about for most of two years. In that celebration, he announced after signing with the Heat how many titles he hoped to win in famous fashion.

"Not one, not two, not three,'' he began that night. "Not four … not five … not six … not seven …"

By Tuesday night, it didn't sound like a joke.

It sounded like a warning.

Because after the Heat got their rings and raised the championship banner to the rafters, they went out and showed rival Boston again just why they're the favorite to repeat as champions.

Just like last spring, there was LeBron lobbing a high pass to Dwyane Wade for a dunk. And there LeBron taking a pass high up by the rim himself and reverse-dunking it behind his head.

Even when LeBron left late in the third quarter with cramps that bothered him the rest of the night, there was Chris Bosh scoring seven straight points in the final minutes to seal the win.

But on a night where so much was about looking back, Ray Allen symbolized the new year and new challenge. He played for the Celtics team the Heat beat in a bloody playoff struggle last spring. He, therefore, wasn't part of Tuesday's ring celebration.

But Allen entered this first game midway through the first quarter in a Heat uniform. The crowd cheered. Because he didn't forget his roots or his manners, he immediately walked to the Celtics bench, hugged coach Doc Rivers, shook hands with Boston assistant coaches.

He then tried to shake hands with star Kevin Garnett seated on the bench.Garnett ignored him.

"That's just KG,'' Allen said on television after the game. "He probably didn't see me coming, because his head was down."

The crowd noticed, though. It booed. And it noticed when Allen made his first shot in a Heat uniform.

"We love Ray!" the crowd began chanting a moment later when he stood at the free-throw line.

By the fourth quarter, that chant turned into a taunt at Boston. "We got Ray!" the crowd said.

That's how it is between these teams and fans. The first game won't be the lasting one. Heat forward Mike Miller said as much when he took the microphone to address the crowd after the ring ceremony and before the game.

"As fun as that season was, the journey starts again tonight,'' Heat forward Mike Miller told the crowd before Tuesday's game. "We need your passion, your support and your energy even more.

"Enjoy the game tonight and let it fly."

Heat fans enjoyed Tuesday night. Last year's championship was celebrated again. This season was celebrated anew. And there was the win.

One game down. A season to go.

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