Perennial and consensus are the only words that come to mind when I think of Lebron James. I mean, he was the consensus #1 pick coming out of high school in 2003, he was the consensus NBA Rookie of the Year after playing his first full season in the NBA (2003-2004), every one of his three MVP awards were the results of contests in which he was the consensus choice for the prestigious award, and he is now the NBA’s perennial champion. No one other than Lebron James and his teammates have hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy high over their heads near the end of June since the summer of 2011, and as we near the midway point of the season, it appears his Miami Heat have a very good chance of reaching that plateau a third consecutive time, reminiscent of his predecessors Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. But above all, Lebron James is the consensus best player in the darn league, a main reason he sits tall as The Source Magazine’s Man of the Year in sports.
It hasn’t been easy for Lebron however, he’s had a seemingly smooth ride these past couple years but they’ve been marred with underlying enigma and controversy, both on and off the court. Looking past his infamous “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” proclamation in July of 2010, otherwise known as The Decision, Lebron appears to have won back the hearts and minds of sports fan everywhere, even in Cleveland. He’s labored through the mind-boggling troubles the Miami Heat experienced during the early part of their run, including problems with coach Erik Spoelstra (who seemed to be on the way out of the door numerous times during the team’s first full season together), mis-communication between the “big 3”, that includes Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and of course Lebron James, and a declining Dwyane Wade, who was under-performing so blatantly at some point Charles Barkley took it upon himself to call out the Marquette University alum during an episode of TNT’s Inside The NBA. Rising a head and shoulders above the mess, Lebron put his team on his shoulders (as he’s done so many times, both in high school and as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers) and brought them to the promised land. His troubles with the Celtics, his failures against the Dallas Mav’s during the Heat’s first trip to the Finals in 2011, and of course the controversy that we won’t get into much detail about (concerning his mother, Delonte West, and some unspeakable accusations), all seemed to become too much for the (still) young star.
There’s one specific moment that encompasses not only Lebron’s entire basketball career, but his character. After a tumultuous 2012 postseason, that included struggles with the Celtics–who were able to push Miami to the brink of elimination after 5 games–Lebron and his heat found themselves in the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year, with an insane amount of pressure placed on their shoulders. To make matters worse, they were up against a youthful and rambunctious Oklahoma City Thunder team that had just rallied from a 2-1 series deficit to defeat the favored San Antonio Spurs, and boasted a very worthy MVP candidate of their own in Kevin Durant. Up 3-1 in the series after falling behind 1-0, Miami had a chance to put the feisty Thunder away at home in South Beach, but Lebron was battling cramps that proved to be so hindering of his game he had to leave for a significant amount of time. Imagine, not being able to play every minute possible in the most important game of your career.
Then, a limping Lebron returned to the court, and this happened:
Which, eventually, resulted in this:
Since then he’s been a machine. This season he’s averaging 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, which puts him on pace to have yet another great year, and put his team in position to three-peat as NBA Champions. Lebron is more than just a great player, he has single-handedly placed both his team and his hometown in a position to be great, which makes him our Source Sports Man of the Year.
-Khari Nixon (@KingVanGogh)