One of the finest NBA players of all times, LeBron James, wins the SI sportsperson award for the second time.
LeBron James was honored Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year awards show, according to The Root.
During his acceptance speech, James remembered other great athletes like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Bill Russell, who inspired him and paved the way for other black athletes.
“It’s never about the individual,” James said. “It’s always about the people behind him. It’s always about the people that’s behind the camera. It’s always about the people that don’t get the credit. It’s always about the people that sacrifice what they could be doing with their lives for the better of the individual.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 1, 2016
LeBron James—who is the second athlete to win the award more than once; Tiger Woods is the other—was presented with the award by Jay Z, who also spoke about those who helped James, and made a jab at Phil Jackson’s recent “posse” comments.
“The son who honors and worships his mother, Gloria. The friend who put his posse in position. We know where we come from. We do understand where we come from, and the only difference between us and someone who has their MBA from Wharton or Sloan or Berkeley or Stanford is opportunity,” Jay Z said. “LeBron James has provided his friends with that opportunity. And as we witness their development, and if we’re looking up at the scoreboard, very few businessmen are better than Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, Randy Mims, and all the rest of the posse behind the scenes that make it look like they’re just hanging out.”
After leaving the Miami Heat to return to his home state of Ohio, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA title, breaking a 47-year championship drought in Ohio, being named NBA Finals MVP along the way, NBA reports.
According to the editors at Sports Illustrated, it came down to James doing more than just on the court.
“In the end we could choose only one winner, which brings us to the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year, LeBron James. He, of course, was not the only athlete to help end a famous title drought. He wasn’t even the only athlete to be part of a comeback from a 3-1 deficit to end a famous title drought. He is, however, the only athlete who did those things to gain more than a ring. In putting the Cavaliers on his back in the NBA Finals he also fulfilled a promise to his home city and to an entire region. He was following through on that heartfelt, but risky, vow he made three summers ago when he returned home after four successful years in Miami.
— NBA (@NBA) December 1, 2016
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission,” he wrote in a 1,200-word essay for Sports Illustrated announcing his return. “I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”
LeBron James certainly did not save Cleveland or northeast Ohio, but he lifted the area in unmistakable ways. In his forthcoming cover story on James that will post later today, Lee Jenkins dives deep into the transformation of a city’s image and the power that sports has to shape how an entire region views itself. (Aside from “Cleveland: City of Champions,” is there a more unlikely phrase than “J.R. Smith: Clevelander for Life?”) This award celebrates northeast Ohio as much as its does the region’s favorite son. In a very crowded year of Sportsperson candidates, the connection between player and community, his community, can be fairly described as the tiebreaking vote.”
James rallied the Cavs in the NBA Finals to defeat the favored Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games during the regular season. James was selected finals MVP for the third time in his career after Cleveland became the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
James scored 41 points in Games 5 and 6 and made a key block in the final minutes of Game 7.
LeBron James joins Tigers Woods as the only two-time winners of the award.
The 31-year-old James has won three league MVPs. He returned to Cleveland in 2014 after four seasons in Miami, where he led the Heat to four straight finals and two titles.
LeBron James was featured on the cover last week when he was named 2016 Sportsperson of the Year, which marked his 26th SI cover and second sportsperson of the year award, the WFIN reports. He now ranks as the magazine’s third most-featured athlete of all time, behind Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.
Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts caught up with James at the ceremony to discuss his journey and the meaning behind this accolade.
— NBA (@NBA) December 13, 2016
Thinking back to James’ first SI cover in 2002, “The Chosen One,” Roberts asked the reigning NBA champ if he has reflected back on the path that led to this moment.
“I haven’t yet,” he said. “Cause I’m still walking that yellow brick road. And that will be a time for reflection but anytime I hear — it’s my 26th cover of Sports Illustrated, it’s like I never dreamed about that. I was, like, ‘Just gimme one, please,’ when I was a kid. And I made my own up — it’s — it’s just too humbling.”
It is no doubt LeBron James deserves to be named the SI sportsperson of the year. We are proud to have such a talented African-American who has taken the center stage in NBA. His inspiration to the Black community goes beyond the basketball court. His foundation has played a key role in helping needy kids.