LeBron James chosen as SI's Sportsman of the Year

MIAMI - 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.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

More LeBron stories

LeBron James comes home and scores 43 points as Heat top Cavaliers 100-96 LeBron James comes home and scores 43 points as Heat top Cavaliers 100-96

As shot after shot dropped through the net, it became clear LeBron James was going to have one of those special nights.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama video-bombs with apples and slam dunk First Lady Michelle Obama video-bombs with apples and slam dunk

First Lady Michelle Obama had some fun with a few players from the Miami Heat who visited the White House recently. 

VIDEO: Meteorologist Mark Johnson "LeBroning" VIDEO: Meteorologist Mark Johnson "LeBroning"

Watch this Instagram video to see NewsChannel 5 Chief Meteorologist Mark Johnson #LeBroning before Live On 5. 

Akron Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary to dedicate gym Saturday in honor of alum LeBron James

A high school gymnasium will sport a new name and look Saturday, thanks to a $1 million donation from LeBron James.

Cleveland fans send LeBron James a message through T-shirts -- Cleveland fans send LeBron James a message through T-shirts -- 'Come home'

LeBron James send former Cavalier a message through t-shirts, time to come home.

BLOG | LeBron James is still everywhere: Billboards, shoes, new uniforms and Thanksgiving Day dinner BLOG | LeBron James is still everywhere: Billboards, shoes, new uniforms and Thanksgiving Day dinner

LeBron James is returning home. Probably not for good, but at least for Thanksgiving.

Michael Jordan: In his prime, he could beat LeBron James in one-on-one basketball game Michael Jordan: In his prime, he could beat LeBron James in one-on-one basketball game

NBA legend Michael Jordan believes he could beat LeBron James in a one-on-one basketball game when he was in his prime.

LeBron James weds girlfriend Savannah Brinson in San Diego, AP sources say LeBron James weds girlfriend Savannah Brinson in San Diego, AP sources say

The Miami Heat star married Savannah Brinson at the posh Grand Del Mar Hotel in San Diego on Saturday, according to two people familiar with the details of the ceremony.

LeBron James joins forces with Starz for sitcom LeBron James joins forces with Starz for sitcom 'Survivor's Remorse'

After LeBron James won his second NBA championship this year, he talked about the improbability of his journey -- ascending to world fame despite growing up with challenge after challenge in the inner city.

LeBron James police escort: Officer who led LeBron to Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z show to get counseling LeBron James police escort: Officer who led LeBron to Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z show to get counseling

The Miami-Dade police says it has chosen to give the officer "informal counseling" after investigating the escort of LeBron James.