Skip to content

Sports Illustrated names LeBron “Sportsman of the Year”

Dec 3, 2012, 11:10 AM EDT

LeBron Sportsman of the Year AP

When we reflect back on him in 20 years, we may remember 2012 as the year LeBron James started to fulfill his potential.

And he can now add Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” to his list of accolades from 2012 that include NBA champion, NBA regular season MVP, NBA finals MVP and leading Team USA to a gold medal at the London Olympics (and make no mistake, when you watched that team practice it was clear whose team it was).

The magazine made its announcement Monday. The last time an NBA player won the honor? Back in 2006 when Dwyane Wade did it.

For years LeBron had seemed unable to reach his full potential. Sure, he had put up monster numbers, twice been NBA MVP, he’d led teams deep into the playoffs, he had a gold medal, he’d been the best player walking the planet for maybe five years. But there was always another level you could sense but that he couldn’t reach. You felt something holding him back.

In 2012 he matured enough mentally to reach those heights. He needed to be out of Cleveland — where he was close to home and where team ownership bent over backwards to cater to him. Basically, he needed to move out of the home he grew up in.

Then he got to Miami where Pat Riley wasn’t bending the franchise for him. More importantly, he became hated by many and had to adapt to people seeing him as a villain. He didn’t like it.

But somewhere after his first season in Miami, he seemed to accept that and find his mental balance. He grew up. And when that happened he could tap into all that potential. He averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game — but he had better statistical seasons before. What was different was the leadership, the ability to take over a game late (or whenever it was needed). The Heat became LeBron’s team and Wade was 1A.

And he put together a year that nobody has ever done save Michael Jordan.

That is what Sports Illustrated is recognizing.

Latest Posts
  1. And-1 Links: League Pass alert — Ben McLemore is the new Pizza Guy

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT

    Isaiah Thomas pizza guy

    Nick Young’s girlfriend Iggy Azalea is better at trick shots than you.

  2. Report: Dirk Nowitzki to play in EuroBasket 2015, which is 2016 Olympics qualifier

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki Getty Images

    Germany qualifying for the Olympics, even with Nowitzki, is an uphill battle.

  3. Tim Duncan to appear in “The Punisher” comic book

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Tim Duncan Punisher

    Guaranteed Duncan likes this better than another trip to the All-Star Game.

  4. Bulls officially sign E’Twaun Moore, he’s likely to stick with team

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Mason Plumlee, E'Twaun Moore Mason Plumlee, E'Twaun Moore

    Half his salary the first year is guaranteed, a sign he is expected to make the final roster.

  5. Report: Glenn Robinson III signs guaranteed deal with Timberwolves

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Zach LaVine and Glen Robinson III of the Minnesota Timberwolves Portraits

    The guaranteed deal is huge but the Wolves are deep at the three. He’ll struggle to get minutes.

  6. Kings retiring Peja Stojakovic’s number

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

    Peja Stojakovic Peja Stojakovic

    Stojakovic’s 3-point bombing made Sacramento better for quite some time

  7. Andrei Kirilenko wants Lionel Hollins to play him more than Jason Kidd did

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Andrei Kirilenko Andrei Kirilenko

    Kirilenko played by far career-low 19 minutes per game last season

  8. 67RIEFNS No. 4: Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins

    No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the NBA draft square off against each other, expectations

  9. Steve Clifford sees Marvin Williams as primarily stretch four with Hornets

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Josh McRoberts, Marvin Williams Josh McRoberts, Marvin Williams

    Williams, who plays both forward positions, now favorite to replace Josh McRoberts in starting lineup

  10. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: New York Knicks

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Derek Fisher Derek Fisher

    Plenty of changes, but enough to make the playoffs?

  11. Report: Spurs open to signing-and-trading Aron Baynes

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Patty Mills Foot Locker In Store Appearance Getty Images

    San Antonio already has 17 players, qualifying offer out to Baynes

  12. Klay Thompson’s agent: Thompson better two-way shooting guard than Kobe Bryant

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

    Bill Duffy: ‘Klay Thompson right now is the top two-way, two-guard in basketball’

  13. Deron Williams says after surgery his ankles feel the best they have in years

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Deron Williams AP

    Deron Williams opening the season healthy would be huge… but just the start of what they need from him.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3137)
  2. L. James (2463)
  3. D. Ferry (2415)
  4. K. Irving (2295)
  5. J. Valanciunas (2230)
  1. K. Bryant (2133)
  2. P. George (2011)
  3. N. Batum (1674)
  4. C. Anthony (1646)
  5. R. Gay (1619)