LeBron James told the world in 2020 that Black Lives Matter. He helped convince many who had never voted to finally go to the polls. He found other ways to continue to uplift the lives of people in his hometown.
If that wasn’t enough, he won another NBA Championship.
James’ performance on the court this year has been spectacular again. A fourth NBA title and a fourth NBA Finals MVP trophy were his, as he ascended the Los Angeles Lakers to the top of the basketball world. And after a brilliant year on and off the court, James was announced as the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year award winner for a record-breaking fourth time.
“I always know what I’m doing on the pitch and obviously I’m giving it my all,” James told AP. “But I can have a bigger impact on the floor right now, more than I can on the floor. And I want to continue to inspire people with the way I play basketball. But there is so much more to it. that I can do. on the ground to help cultivate people, inspire people, bring people together, empower them. “
The AP Prize was first awarded in 1931. James’ fourth victory tied Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods for most men. Three women have won the AP Prize at least four times; Babe Didrikson has won six times, Serena Williams has won five and Chris Evert four.
The PA female athlete of the year will be announced on Sunday.
No NBA player has scored more points or had more assists in 2020 than James. The only other player in his life to lead the league in points and assists in the same calendar year? Himself, in 2018.
James also became the first player to be NBA Finals MVP for three franchises. He passed Kobe Bryant for No.3 on the all-time scorecard, a day before Bryant died last January in a helicopter crash; the last tweet Bryant sent was a congratulatory message to James.
“He’s the greatest player the basketball world has ever seen,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James in October. “And if you think you know, you don’t know until you’re around him everyday, you coach him, you see his mind, you see his adjustments, see the way he’s leading the group. You think you know. You do not know. “
James finished with 78 points voting by a panel of 35 AP clients and publishers. Kansas City quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes finished second with 71 points. Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton was a distant third with 14 points.
James – also the male AP athlete of the last decade – also won the annual AP award in 2013, 2016 and 2018. Three-time winner Michael Jordan is the only other basketball player to have won the AP award more than once.
“He’s one of the greatest leaders in sport,” Lakers goaltender Kyle Kuzma said of James.
This applies on and off the pitch.
James’ More Than A Vote organization attracted more than 42,000 volunteers to work in polling stations for the November election, helped some regain their right to vote and pushed for participation of blacks and young voters.
Black voters made up 11% of the national electorate and 9 in 10 of them supported President-elect Joe Biden, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide. Compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016, Biden drew more voters in critical areas with high black populations – such as NBA cities like Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta. It turned out to be huge.
“George Floyd’s tragic death, everyone gets to see that, and also hear the story of Breonna Taylor, her tragic story, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia … my people have had enough and I’ve had enough enough, ”James told me. “That’s why I called for action and with my platform I believed I could get people to join me.”
He also focused, as always, on his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The I PROMISE school that it opened in 2018 now has more than 450 students in grades three to six. When the pandemic ended at school, James and his team ensured that students received hot meals at home – even full Thanksgiving meals. An affordable housing project for 50 families was launched this year. And this month, plans for House Three Thirty (a nod to Akron’s area code) were announced, detailing how James will deliver things like accessible family financial health programs, job training. and a community gathering space.
“The pandemic has been tough on all of us, “James said.” No matter your situation, no matter where you are in life, it’s been tough. And the first thing I thought of, besides the stopping of the season, when the pandemic hit was ‘What am I going to do for my kids behind my back at my school?’ “
He’s already looking at 2021. The Lakers expect to be in contention again. His remake of “Space Jam” is due out this summer. And James, who turns 36 on Wednesday, hasn’t ruled out playing for USA Basketball again at the Tokyo Olympics in the team that will be coached by Gregg Popovich.
“It’s always possible,” James said. “It’s not a zero percent chance, I’ll say that. I love Coach Pop.”
But, at the end of 2020, James gave himself a moment to reflect on a year like no other.
“It’s a tribute to the people I work with, the people in my foundation, the sponsors who continue to support us, what we do and what we strive for,” said James. “It’s amazing. I can’t sit here and say that by the time we stopped in March, I thought this would all happen and we would by then in December.”
Yet it is there again.
For a daily dose of the best of the latest news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter in click here!