LeBron James told the world in 2020 that Black Lives Matter. He helped convince many people who had never voted to finally go to the polls. He found other ways to continue to improve the lives of people in his hometown.
If that wasn’t enough, he won another NBA Championship.
James’ performance on the pitch this year has been spectacular again. A fourth NBA title and a fourth NBA Finals MVP trophy were his as he brought the Los Angeles Lakers back to the top of the basketball world. And after a brilliant year, on and off the pitch, James was announced on Saturday as the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year award winner for a fourth time, a tied record. .
“I always know what I’m doing on the pitch and obviously I give it my all,” James told AP. “But I can have a bigger impact on the ground right now, more than I can on the ground. And I want to continue to inspire people with the way I play basketball. But there are so many other things I can do in the field 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 six wins, Serena Williams has 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, the way he’s leading the group. You think you know. You do not know.
James finished with 78 points voted on by a panel of 35 AP clients and publishers. Kansas City quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes was right behind with 71 points. Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton was far 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.
The organization More than a vote of James attracted more than 42,000 volunteers to work in polling stations for the November elections, helped some regain their voting rights and lobbied for the participation of black and youth 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.
“The tragic death of George Floyd, everyone has the chance to see this, and also to hear the story of Breonna Taylor, her tragic story and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia… my people have had enough and I have had enough “James said. “That’s why I called for action and with my platform I thought I could get people to join me.”
He also focused, as always, on his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The I PROMISE school, which he opened in 2018, now has more than 450 students in grades three to six. When the pandemic then closed the school, James and his team ensured that students received hot meals delivered to their homes – even full Thanksgiving meals. An affordable housing project for 50 families was inaugurated this year. And this month, plans for House Three Thirty (a nod to Akron 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 children behind my back in my school?” ?
He’s already looking at 2021. The Lakers expect to be contenders 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 squad that will be coached by Gregg Popovich.
“It’s still possible,” James said. “It’s not a 0% percent chance, I’ll say that. I love Coach Pop.
But, as 2020 drew to a close, 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 and 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 be at this point in December.
Yet here it is, again.