LeBron James named AP Male Athlete of the Decade

By Reuters: Monday, December 30th 2019 at 10:55 GMT +3 | Basketball
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) makes a pass in front of Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. The Pacers defeated the Lakers 105-102. [AP Photo/Michael Conroy]

LeBron James was named Male Athlete of the Decade by The Associated Press on Sunday, an honour voted on by AP member sports editors and writers.

In the 2010s, James won three NBA championships -- earning the NBA Finals most valuable player award each time -- plus three league MVP awards and an Olympic gold medal.

In the voting, he topped the No. 2 finisher, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was followed by sprinter Usain Bolt, soccer star Lionel Messi and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

James, who turns 35 on Monday, also has racked up significant off-court achievements in the past decade, both in the business and social avenues and with the opening of a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

James, in his second year with the Los Angeles Lakers, will be well remembered in a decade of momentous accomplishments for two defining moments.

First was "The Decision," a made-for-TV special in which he announced in July 2010 that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers -- the team that drafted him -- for the Miami Heat. Fans in his native northeastern Ohio burned his jerseys in anger.

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All was forgotten in June 2016, however, after James returned to the Cavaliers after four years in Miami and led them to their first-ever NBA championship in his second season back in Cleveland.

Entering play Sunday, James has played in 1,229 career regular-season games. He's scored 33,334 points -- fourth all-time in NBA history -- and the next decade will see him pass at least another Los Angeles great, Kobe Bryant, who is third on the list with 33,643 points and behind only NBA Hall of Fame members Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.

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