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LeBron James named SI’s Sportsman of the Year

12.03.12 at 10:06 am ET

NBA MVP LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, the magazine announced Monday.

James, 27, won his first NBA championship in 2012, leading the Heat past the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals and then past the Thunder in the NBA finals. He also won a gold medal with Team USA at the London Olympics.

He became just the second player ever to win an NBA title, an NBA MVP award and an Olympic gold medal in the same year (Michael Jordan, 1992).

James acknowledged that he needed to change some things following his infamous ESPN special in 2010 in which he announced his decision to leave the Cavaliers for the Heat.

“Did I think an award like this was possible two years ago? No, I did not,” James said in the SI cover story. “I thought I would be helping a lot of kids and raise $3 million by going on TV and saying, ‘Hey, I want to play for the Miami Heat.’ But it affected far more people than I imagined. I know it wasn’t on the level of an injury or an addiction, but it was something I had to recover from. I had to become a better person, a better player, a better father, a better friend, a better mentor and a better leader. I’ve changed, and I think people have started to understand who I really am.”

James is the first NBA player to be named SI’s Sportsman of the Year since Heat guard Dwyane Wade in 2006.

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