LeBron James: 2012 Sportsman of the Year

LeBron James lifts the Larry O'Brien Trophy to celebrate with the Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals. (Source: Getty Images)

LeBron James lifts the Larry O’Brien Trophy to celebrate with the Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals. (Source: Getty Images)

He’s the type of athlete people love to hate. He is surrounded with criticism and controversy. He left his hometown and devastated their fan base to resurrect another franchise. And as much as people may dislike him, he is still the best player in the NBA, and for the first time, Sports Illustrated has honored him with its annual Sportsman of the Year award.

This man is, of course, Miami Heat forward LeBron James. From his days at high school in Akron, Ohio, James has done nothing but impress and make headlines. James was the most highly touted prospect heading into the 2003 NBA Draft, and turned down scholarship offers from Duke, Kentucky, and Ohio State to enter the draft as a high school student. James was selected first overall by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, and quickly became an NBA superstar, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2004.

The list of James’ accolades is one of the most impressive in basketball history. He is an eight-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA First Team selection, four-time All-NBA Defensive selection, three-time NBA MVP, and he also has a scoring title and two gold medals for Team USA in 2008 and 2012. But his most precious award might be the 2012 NBA Championship he recently won with the Miami Heat, putting to rest many claims that LeBron would never win a title. He also took home the NBA Finals MVP award.

LeBron has also made headlines off the court. Before he even stepped on an NBA court, James signed a $90 million deal with Nike, joining legendary names like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods with the retailer. James also has multimillion dollar contracts with Sprite, McDonald’s, Upper Deck, and State Farm. In addition to his $17.5 million dollars he earns with the Heat, James makes nearly $50 million annually.

Since his dramatic entrance into the world of professional basketball ten years ago, LeBron James has made countless headlines. Contracts, awards, rumors, sponsorships, and an hour-long television special announcing his future. These are just some of the many ways LeBron James has impacted the world of sports. Now Sports Illustrated has bestowed upon him the title of the Sportsman of the Year. Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t argue: LeBron James is one of the best athletes in the world.

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