MIAMI -- As the Miami Heat's lead skyrocketed Thursday night from 5 just after halftime to an insurmountable 24 by the end of the third quarter, their fans outside the AmericanAirlines Arena decided it was time to celebrate the team's second NBA championship in six years.

The thousands gathered in bars, restaurants and a park near the arena screamed in joy late Thursday as the Heat dropped one 3-pointer after another. Fans used the fourth quarter to get an early start on their party as they watched their team coast to a 121-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won the series in five games.

The promise made to South Florida fans 23 months earlier when LeBron James and Chris Bosh added their talents to Dwyane Wade's had arrived.

"We're bringing the championship home to Miami. LeBron promised us a ring and he got us our ring," said Ivine Mulkey, 32.

Orlando Hernandez, 33, noted it had been a team effort, with major Game 5 contributions coming from supporting players Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.

"This is the best game they've ever had – the best final. It's unbelievable how they stepped up. It's not just one person. It's everybody," Hernandez said.

As the game ended, the fans from the neighborhood bars pushed happily toward the arena, meeting those leaving the game to jump, whoop and holler. They banged pots and pans and blew whistles. Championship shirts were sold, and special editions of The Miami Herald were handed out. Traffic on Biscayne Boulevard outside the arena was gridlocked.

The only negativity came when the Thunder's team bus left the arena – some fans sprayed it with liquid and made obscene gestures toward the players as it crawled away. Still, Miami police reported no serious problems after the game.

James, the regular season and Finals MVP, may be hated in Cleveland and elsewhere for leaving his native state's Cavaliers, but his adopted hometown showered him with love after the game. Fans waved posters of their hero and defended him against critics, who branded him a choker who would never win a championship.

"Silence the haters – LeBron did it," said Matthew Gonzalez, 21.

Fans were already making plans for next season. After all, James promised not just one championship. Or just two, three, four, five, six or seven.

"We're going to win next year too. This is just the beginning," fan Samantha Stevens said.

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  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: A motorist drives a car painted with the word 'El Heat' along Biscayne Boulevard before game five of the 2012 NBA finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat at Havana Nines June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2012 NBA June finals 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat fans celebrate after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Heat fans celebrate after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Heat fans celebrate the Heat's win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Hialeah, Fla., Friday, June 22, 2012 after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • Miami Heat fans celebrate the Heat's win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Hialeah, Fla., Friday, June 22, 2012 after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • Miami Heat fans in Hialeah, Fla., Friday June, 22, 2012 celebrate the Heat's win over Oklahoma City Thunder after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • Miami Heat fans celebrate in Hialeah, Fla., early Friday June 22, 2012 after the Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship. The Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in Game 5 of the NBA finals to win the title. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • Miami Heat fans celebrate the Heat win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Hialeah, Fla., Friday, June 22, 2012 after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Gabrielle Union

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans celebrate the Miami Heat's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Jolinda Wade

    Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade's mother, Jolinda Wade reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Jon Simpkins shows off his face paint as he poses for a portrait before game five of the 2012 NBA finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat at Havana Nines June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Julio Gomez shows off his face paint as he poses for a portrait before game five of the 2012 NBA finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat at Havana Nines June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans watch game five of the 2012 NBA finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat at Havana Nines June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat Fans Gather To Watch NBA Finals

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans watch game five of the 2012 NBA finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat at Havana Nines June 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

  • LMFAO

    Members of LMFAO cheer after performing at a break during the first half at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: A fan holds up a giant cardboard cutout of the Larry O'Brien Finals CHampionship trophy as the Miami Heat play against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: A fan of the Miami Heat shows support for his team against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: Fans wait outside the arena prior to the Miami Heat playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • Miami Heat fans pass in front of American Airlines Arena before Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Heat fans pass in front of American Airlines Arena before Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Miami Heat fan Rick Ramirez cheers the team before Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • AMiami Heat fan dances in front of the American Airlines Arena before Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • The Heat Street Band performs in front of the American Airlines Arena before Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)