Miami Heat star LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year Monday, becoming the first NBA player to win the award since teammate Dwayne Wade in 2006.
Sports Illustrated has given the award away since the magazine's inception in 1954. Past winners include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Sandy Koufax, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Cal Ripken Jr., Arthur Ashe, Brett Favre and Michael Phelps. College basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt shared the honor last year.
Although James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in July 2010 in a cloud of controversy, choosing to do so in a televised event termed "The Decision" that left some Cavalier fans burning his jerseys, he started to put that behind him in his second year in Miami, leading the Heat to their second championship, the other coming in 2006 under Wade and Shaquille O'Neal.
Besides that NBA title, 2012 also saw James capture the NBA Finals MVP trophy, an Olympic gold medal for Team USA in London and his third NBA MVP award.
According to Sports Illustrated, this is the 18th time James will be on the magazine's cover, with his first time coming as a high school junior in February 2002.
The Dec. 10 issue of the magazine is out Wednesday, the same day James will be honored at the magazine's Sportsman of the Year awards gala in New York.