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Heat's James says SI Sportsman of the Year award is 'huge'

LeBron James is the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (Walter Iooss Jr.)LeBron James is the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (Walter Iooss Jr.)

By Ben Golliver

LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated's 2012 Sportsman of the Year on Monday, capping off a year that saw him win his first NBA title, MVP and Finals MVP awards, and an Olympic gold medal.

His selection raised all sorts of questions. Has he lived up to the hype? Has he reached his peak? What's next? The Point Forward endeavored to provide answers to those and a few others. One obvious question we couldn't attempt to answer: How does it feel to receive one of sport's biggest honors?

James provided his reaction to the Associated Press in a Monday interview, expressing some surprise that he won the award less than three years after he announced his plans to leave the Cavaliers for the Heat on national television in 2010.

"I remember just like yesterday when I signed here and basically, like the roof caved in," James told The Associated Press, referring to the fallout from his infamous "Decision" to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010. "To see that I and my team and everyone around me was able to patch that roof up, to come to this point, to come to this point and receive such a prestigious award, it's huge."

"Do I need it? I don't need it," James said. "I don't ever look for individual accolades. I do what I do because I love it and I want to continue to get better at it."

"Welcome to the club," Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who was Sportsman of the Year in 2006, tweeted. "We have been expecting you... Congrats to my brother from another."

James, 27, averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals while shooting 53.1 percent for the Heat last season. He joins the following list of NBA players to be named SI Sportsman of the Year, an honor that dates back to 1954: Wade (2006), David Robinson and Tim Duncan (2003), Michael Jordan (1991), Rory Sparrow (1987, split the award with four others), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1985) and Bill Russell (1968).

More coverage: Sportsman of the Year Covers | Photos of LeBron James through the years

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