Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/28/2006 04:26:00 PM
My Sportsman: LeBron James
LeBron James seems to grow exponentially as a basketball player every season -- he's the present and future of the NBA's image.
David E. Klutho/SI
By Chris Mannix
In theory, the Sportsman of the Year award is supposed to be about one athlete's entire body of work in a given calendar year. And LeBron James, well, let's just say there are no holes in his resume.
Last season, King James became the fourth player in NBA history to average 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in one season, joining an elite fraternity that includes NBA immortals Oscar Robertson (who did it twice) and Michael Jordan. James ranked first in the league in minutes per game, field goals made and second in points scored and steals. In just his third season, he became the most complete player in the game. And to borrow a phrase from the great Hubie Brown, LeBron has tremendous upside.
But it only took one play for James to secure my vote.
The setting: Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Cavaliers and the Pistons. Third quarter. Detroit has just switched off a pick-and-roll and James is matched up with Rasheed Wallace, the 6-foot-11 forward for the Pistons. James pulls it back, sizes up Wallace, who is frantically tapping his ears in an effort to get his teammates to tell him where he has help, Then James goes to work. With a divinely first step, he blows by Wallace and in one pure motion and elevates into the teeth of the Detroit defense. Freeze it right here: He dunks over four Pistons.
Think about the image. Here is James, as if lifted by his ivory pedestal, throwing one down over four members of what was at the time the NBA's elite team. Wow.
Ask yourself this: Does any player transcend the game the way James does? Cynics will argue James isn't as cerebral as Jordan, that he doesn't understand the intricacies of the game the way MJ did. They forget, of course, that at age 21, Jordan was still eating dinner in a mess hall at North Carolina. They will argue others possess greater single talents, and they may be right. Kobe Bryant is an electric scorer. Dwyane Wade has a championship ring and still untapped potential. Shaquille O'Neal is dominant, but no longer dynamic.
James is the real deal, the total package (both on the court and off) who is destined to not only lead the NBA back to its highest levels of prominence, but also be the standard bearer for American basketball. Team USA can no longer claim to be the most feared force in global basketball, but it will one day again. And when it does, you can be sure James will be the one standing there leading the charge.
He is the future and the future is now. The sooner we all get on board with that, the better.
James is a phenomenal talent. But in today's NBA a "sportsman" is hard to find. Tim Duncan deservedly received the award a few years ago but I can't see giving it to anyone affiliated with the NBA anymore until the league cleans up its act.
LeBron James has shown rapid growth and I agree with what's been said, but isn't anyone going to nominate Roger Federer soon? I kind of feel like he won't win, but at least a nod would be in its place. (He is by far my sportsman of the year anyway.)
LeBron is a pretty amazing player. When you talk about MYP, his name always seems to show up. But what we're really missing is the fact that he hasn't got past the second round of the playoffs. Dwayne Wade is the more logical choice. Think about it. A championship in his third year. That's Jordan-like. He carried his team on his back with the injured Shaq on the bench. Let's not forget the clutch factor. Wade hits the shot when it counts. He's already done it at MSG and in the playoffs and he's done it injured. I'm sorry, but the 24 points a game, 7 assists, and a ring in three years. That's hard to compare the King with Flash.
LeBron James is an amazing player. Whem MVP is mentioned, his name always seems to come up. But what we're really forgetting is the fact that he hasn't made it past the second round of the playoffs. Dwyane Wade is the Sportsman of the Year. Come on, a championship in his third year. That's Jordan-like. He carried his team on his back with an injured Shaq on the bench. Let's not forget the clutch factor. He already done it at MSG. He's done it in the playoffs. He's done it injured. Im sorry, but 24 points a game, 7 assists, and a ring. That's hard to compare the King with Flash.
NO WAY!!!,, Lebron is GREAT and all, but Sportsmen of the year.. NO WAY!!! I would pick Kobe, or D-Wade first and that is just in the NBA. Don't you have to be a champion? A Loss in game 7 of the conf. semis. hardly qualifies.. Did we forget about Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Albert Puljos, Floyd Mayweather. and I know UFC has more growing to do but how about Matt Hughes. These are all athletes who dominated there sport like no other. You media people are so funny.. haha.. Lebron lives up to the hype and then some, but come on.. You are writing for S.I.? How did that happen?
I was a LeBron fan until his team came to Rochester for a pre-season game and it was decided that he would not play at all. Fans paid $25-$150 to see him play. All LeBron could say was, "I can't worry about what the fans think..." Keep in mind LeBron wasn't injured, he just played the night before. LeBron also thought it was funny to pretend he was going to go in the game only to sit back down again. Michael Jordan never would have let this happen. MJ always believed he was playing in front of fans who were paying to see him play for the first and maybe only time. MJ always came to play. I can't say that about LJ anymore.
Everyone who says that LeBron isn't as good as D-Wade and Kobe becuase he hasn't won a championship should give credit where credit is due: Shaq. Both are nothing without Shaq (see Kobe try to do it himself) and if LeBron had a real center he would be able to go the distance.
I would be sick to see Lebron get the "Sportsman of the Year". For someone who paid top dollar to watch him play in an exhibition game in Rochester, NY and was greatly disappointed by him 1) not playing at all and 2) taunting the crowd by faking like he was going to check into the game. Lebron still has a lot of growing up to do!
I agree with the people who look beyond the USA. How about those Spanish players who won the World Championship that LeBron and Co. couldn't get near? Or what about some of those Italian soccer players who won the World Cup? Or how about Federer and Nadal at the top of the tennis world? Or how about Ronaldinho bringing the Champions League to Barcelona and bringing art back into soccer? I mean, the list is endless, and an extremely talented but under-developed NBA kid is not deserving. After all, do you want his head to get so BIG that he stops developing his talent and doesn't bother overcoming his serious flaws as a player (shot mechanics, poor positional defense, not moving without the ball)?
I think LeBron James is a great talent and his best days are yet to come. Therefore, we could honor him later :) This year is all about tennis history and the nicest possible person in it dominating the slams, the AMS tournaments, the charities... I don't mean to mess with the name (I consider to be of) holiness, i.e. Michael Jordan, but Roger is the new MJ. He is extraordinary both on and off the court. If he had been born anywhere in the US & played for the US, he would have been a lock. I think, anyway.
All of those calling for other sportsmen (Federer, etc.), this is done by writer. Mannix is an NBA writer, so his "sportsman" comes from the NBA. Just like Steward Mandel chose Troy Smith as his "sportsman".
And to those whining because he didn't play in a preseason game: It was a preseason game. What did you expect? You want LeBron, after playing all summer for team USA and playing a game the night before, to risk an injury that could hamper his development just so you can feel good about wasting $125 on a game that doesn't even count in the standings? Geez. The game is about the fans, but it is also about the players. And it wasn't LeBron's decision to play or not play, it was Coach Brown. Quit complaining, suck it up, and next time, don't pay a bunch of money for something thats not guaranteed. Just because some promoter hypes the game saying LBJ will play doesn't mean its true. Next time you decide to spend upwards of $100 on a preseason game, think for a second about what it is: A PRESEASON GAME.
As for the Kobe/Wade stuff about winning a championship: Look at the supporting cast they have. When either one won, they had the most dominant big man maybe in the history of the game. Put LeBron on a team with Shaq in his prime and lets see what happens.
If it were an NBA award only LB still wouldn't win it. LB is nowhere near the complete player that Kobe is. LB plays in the weak east, while KB is putting up his number agaist a much better west. Need I mention 63 on Dallas (that team that went to the finals). Kobe has been NBA all-defense in 2006, 2004, 2003. In all reality nobody in the NBA deserves the award.
You people are pretty silly. Kobe? Great scorer. Wade? Best player on a great team. LeBron- Best player in the league. 24 and 7 is nice for Wade, but LeBron did 31, 7, and 7?!! In 15 seasons, Jordan only did that once. Try to put this into some context people. Federer is a good argument, but don't try to tell me that there is a better NBA guy to pick for this award than LeBron. And the troubles of the league off the court shouldn't be a strike against LeBron, who continues to be quite a model citizen. And so what if he didn't play in a preseason game, that's just the Cavs being smart and giving a guy that has to play 82 games + playoffs + Summer world ball a little rest.
"Posted: 11:03 AM, December 01, 2006 by Anonymous Everyone who says that LeBron isn't as good as D-Wade and Kobe becuase he hasn't won a championship should give credit where credit is due: Shaq. Both are nothing without Shaq (see Kobe try to do it himself) and if LeBron had a real center he would be able to go the distance."
Hey Mannix: Get an education. "Transcend" means you're bigger than the thing you're transcending. For LeBron to transcend the sport, he'd have to matter in some other way than as a basketball player. Like Ali who mattered politically when he refused to go to Vietnam. LeBron tears his ACL tomorrow, the media will drop him in the dustbin of history in about eight seconds flat. Much like your employer should, based on your evident level of literacy.
When LeBron learns how to play defense, give me a call. Until then, it's Kobe Bryant and Everyone else. And to those who say Kobe hasn't done anything without Shaq, need I remind you about 81? And he got his team of scrubs to the playoffs and within one game of upsetting a WCF team. Kobe is the only player in the league capable of shutting down a premier player on one end while dropping 40 on the other. People have short memories, rewatch Lakers vs. Pacers Finals, Kobe took over when Shaq fouled out, on a bum ankle to boot.
Too bad the media has already handed the MVP award to James, with 65 games left in the season.
I agree that the headbutt heard round the world makes this argument sound silly at first. But whenever the name Zidane comes up in a conversation, I'm always going to remember for the magical summer of '06 when he transcended the world's game. I'll never forget the mystical night against Brazil where he took the team on his back and elevated himself above the suposedly invincible boys of Brazil. Please, lets remember the marvels that Zidane brought us rather than the dissapointments.