Miami Heat superstar LeBron James has been named Sports Illustrated‘s 2012 Sportsmen of the Year.
James’ biographers will likely remember 2012 as a watershed year for LBJ. The year saw LeBron win an Olympic gold medal and NBA Championship while claiming both regular season and NBA Finals MVP awards. Despite the success, ESPN reports that James was surprised to find out he’d won the honor, believing that he was still viewed negatively as a result of his decision to leave Cleveland via a contrived live television special.
“I remember just like yesterday when I signed here and basically, like the roof caved in,” James said. “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.”
Sports Illustrated notes that James, averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals last season as he led the Heat to an NBA Championship. His teammate with the Heat, Dwayne Wade, was also named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year in 2006.
“Welcome to the club,” Wade tweeted. “We have been expecting you… Congrats to my brother from another.”
LeBron James’ bringing home a Sportsman of the Year award puts him in elite company. A selection of previous winners of the award include Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Arthur Ashe, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, and Michael Phelps. Duke men’s basketball coach (who also coached the men’s Olympic team) Mike Krzyzewski and former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt shared award last year.