MIAMI (AP) — When LeBron James learned he was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, the Miami Heat star was surprised.
Not because he thought his achievements in 2012 weren’t worthy, but because he figured what happened in 2010 was still holding him back.
Apparently, that’s no longer the case. The magazine announced its annual choice Monday, with James becoming the first NBA player to win the award since Heat teammate Dwyane Wade in 2006.
“I remember just like yesterday when I signed here and basically, like the roof caved in,” James told The Associated Press, referring to the fallout from his infamous “Decision” to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010. “To see that I and my team and everyone around me was able to patch that roof up, to come to this point, to come to this point and receive such a prestigious award, it’s huge.”
Past winners include Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Arthur Ashe, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Michael Phelps. College basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski — James’ Olympic coach — and Pat Summitt shared the honor last year.
Time Inc. Sports Group editor Paul Fichtenbaum said one thing separating James this year was that when Miami needed him most “he came up the biggest.” In particular, Game 4 of the second-round series at Indiana and Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at Boston.
“LeBron kind of made it easy on us,” Fichtenbaum said. “In a year that had really high standards, he just stood taller than everybody else.”
James won essentially all he could win in 2012: He became an NBA champion for the first time, won the NBA Finals MVP trophy, helped the U.S. win Olympic gold for the second time and picked up his third NBA MVP award.
Fichtenbaum said James was the choice not only for his play but also because of his charitable work, especially involving schoolchildren in his native Akron, Ohio.
“I do think there has been some sort of closure — maybe not entirely in Cleveland, but across the nation,” Fichtenbaum said. “LeBron’s jerseys are now the No. 1-selling jerseys. I think there’s a reason for that. I think people really appreciate him for everything he can do.”
This is the 18th time James will be on SI’s cover, the magazine said. His first time was as a high school junior in February 2002, when the magazine famously dubbed him “The Chosen One” and touted how he would have been an NBA lottery pick even then.
The first 17 covers were different: Only this one has James wearing an NBA championship ring.
James said the sportsman honor was humbling considering this was year in which Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin starred at the London Olympics, Miguel Cabrera became baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years and Roger Federer captured Wimbledon for the seventh time.
“Do I need it? I don’t need it,” James said. “I don’t ever look for individual accolades. I do what I do because I love it and I want to continue to get better at it.”
The Dec. 10 issue of SI is out Wednesday, the same day James will be honored at the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year awards gala in New York.
(Photo Credit: AP)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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