LeBron honored as Cleveland's top athlete for title in 2016
CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James has had a rough 2017 so far.
On Thursday night, he got another trophy for making history last year.
James, who made good on his promise to win a championship for his home state, was named professional athlete of the year at the Greater Cleveland Sports awards after leading the Cavaliers to the city's first title in 52 years.
The superstar ended Cleveland's title drought and inspired n entire region by helping the Cavs storm back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to stun the Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games in the regular season but couldn't complete their unprecedented season with a crown.
James blocked the defending champions - literally.
One of the enduring moments from '16 was James racing back on defense to reject Andre Iguodala's layup attempt in the closing minutes of Game 7 as the Cavs won at Oracle Arena to win the city's first pro sports title since 1964.
James did not attend the star-studded event held at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, and he also did not accept his award via video as he's done after winning at past events.
It's been a strange, tumultuous week for James, who publicly criticized the Cavs' roster and questioned Cleveland management's commitment to winning a second title. The Cavs have dropped six of eight, including consecutive losses to New Orleans and Sacramento, two teams with sub-.500 records.
Cleveland has lost three in a row and is 5-7 in January.
The Cavs were honored for the city's best sports moment, and general manager David Griffin accepted the award after a video montage of last year's Finals were shown inside the ballroom.
''I needed to watch that video very badly,'' Griffin said, hinting at a tough past few days.
Griffin acknowledged how Cleveland's image has changed since the Cavs won it all, ending decades of sports frustration.
''This city believes it's a city of champions,'' he said. ''We think now of why we're supposed to win, not why we won't. Make no mistake, every one of us do what we do so we can do it again.''
The highlight of this year's event was former Indians manager Mike Hargrove receiving a lifetime achievement award. Hargrove, who guided the Indians to two World Series appearances in the 1990s, was joined on stage by Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar and Chad Ogea, three key members of those Cleveland teams that dominated the AL but didn't win the Series.
Hargrove played for the Indians in the 1970s, traded to Cleveland from Texas.
''My first experience was 10 cent beer night,'' he said, recalling the night when Cleveland fans, fueled by cheap beer, stormed the field. ''It wasn't a pretty picture. We survived. We've been living here year around since 1994 and I think that makes me an Ohioan. I hope it does.''
Current Indians manager Terry Francona was also recognized after leading the Indians to an AL pennant last year and their first World Series since 1997. Members of this year's team, including shortstop Francisco Lindor and reliever Andrew Miller, received a rousing ovation from the crowd of 1,300.
One of the early presenters was Browns side receiver Terrelle Pryor, who can become an unrestricted free agent in March. The Browns recently signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a four-year, $50 million contract and are hoping to re-sign Pryor, who had more than 1,000 yards in his first full season since changing positions.
Pryor had surgery on his right hand following the season to repair torn a tendon.
''It's out of my hands,'' Pryor told the AP when asked about negotiations with the Browns. ''I've told my agents to handle it and let them know that when they've got a deal to call me. I don't care about the numbers. It's not about any of that. I've just been going to the facility and working out and when I get this cast off, I'll be good to go. I'm all about playing.''