Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – He’s arguably the greatest player in the history of the NBA and now Miami Heat superstar forward LeBron James can add Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year to his growing list of accomplishments.
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 was named Sportsman of the Year Monday by Sports Illustrated. It caps off a year that has seen LeBron win the NBA MVP award, NBA Finals MVP, his first NBA Championship, and a gold medal.
”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.”
James helped cement his legacy in 2012 with the NBA championship and the year also served as a reintroduction to fans who had become angry with LeBron after he very publicly announced he was joining the Miami Heat in 2010.
After undergoing one of the harshest seasons in recent memory for a player from the standpoint of fan hatred, LeBron and the Heat were once again in the Eastern Conference Finals and standing on the cusp of elimination.
It was Game 6 of the 2012 E.C. Finals and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were nowhere near 100 percent, but still playing. LeBron took the Heat on his back and proceeded to silence the crowd at the T.D. Garden and almost single-handedly will the Heat to victory with 45 points and 15 rebounds.
From that point forward, things fell into place for James to finally capture the elusive title he came to Miami to win. That championship, the first of what he hopes will be many in the future.
James reinvented his game to feature much more of a post-game and the move made him especially lethal during the playoffs and made the Heat almost impossible to defend.
Click here to read SI.com’s lengthy report on James and his Sportsman of the Year award.
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