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LeBron James named SI’s Sportsman of the Year

NBA MVP LeBron James [1] was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year [2], the magazine announced Monday.

James, 27, won his first NBA championship in 2012, leading the Heat past the Celtics [3] in the Eastern Conference finals and then past the Thunder in the NBA finals [4]. He also won a gold medal with Team USA at the London Olympics [5].

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 [6], 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 [7] 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 [8].’ 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 [9] in 2006.