LeBron James Becomes First Athlete Named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Three Times

by Charles Craighill

Sports Illustrated has named its Sportsperson of the Year, and for the third time, they named LeBron James. With that, he becomes the first athlete to be named Sportsperson of the Year three times. LeBron James won the honor in the years 2012, 2016, and now in 2020.

Even the biggest of LeBron-haters can’t deny LeBron’s impact on sports this year. The 35-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star led his team to an NBA Championship in his second year with the team. He just signed a two-year contract extension worth $85 million. LeBron is certainly riding high, but what makes this year even more incredible than the rest? Let’s take a look at the three years LeBron James earned this prestigious award.

LeBron James 2012 Sportsperson of the Year Award

In 2012, the first time he won Sportsperson of the year, LeBron James played his second season with the Miami Heat. After the 2010 season, he famously announced that he would “take [his] talents to South Beach” following seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his first season with the heat, he led his team to the NBA Finals but lost to the Dallas Mavericks.

In that historic second season with the Miami Heat, LeBron James would not be denied that elusive NBA title. Through the regular season, he scored double digits in points in every single game. He also won six Player of the week awards as well as two of the four Player of the Month awards. This led him to win his third NBA MVP award.

Of course, LeBron James didn’t stop there. He had not won an NBA title to that point, but that would quickly change. LeBron led the Heat on an epic playoff run, ending in a defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. LeBron also took the Finals MVP Finals, rounding off a historic season.

The 2016 Sportsperson of the Year

The 2016 narrative had similar implications for LeBron James, but this year, he brought the NBA title home to Cleveland. This championship became transcendent with the completion of LeBron’s character arc. He finally delivered on a promise he made to his home state when he was drafted ahead of the 2003 season. After leaving Cleveland empty-handed in 2010, he finally redeemed himself in the eyes of his city.

Oh, not to mention he won his third NBA Finals MVP, overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals for the first time in the history of the sport, and averaged a double-double in the NBA Finals. So yeah, seems like the Sportsperson of the year award made sense.

LeBron James 2020 Sportsperson of the Year Campaign

Like the other two years, LeBron James led his 2020 Sportsperson of the Year campaign with another NBA Championship. Again, he won the title with a new team. After joining the Los Angeles Lakers last season, LeBron James did what he always does and built a team and a locker room around him that he knew would succeed. Like usual, it took a year to develop, and like usual, in his second year with the team, they won a championship.

LeBron’s activity also extended beyond sports this year. He played a large part in the NBA support of the Black Lives Matter movement, leading a playoff boycott. He also acted in the Space Jam sequel, set to come out in 2021.

In all of these cases, LeBron James does more than anyone else in the sports world. No matter what you think of “King James,” you can’t deny that he is deserving of this award.