LeBron James told the world in 2020 that Black Lives Matter. He helped convince many who had never voted to finally head to the polls. He found more ways to continue elevating the lives of people in his hometown.
If that weren’t enough, he won another NBA championship.
James’ on-court performance this year was spectacular again. A fourth NBA title and fourth NBA Finals MVP trophy were his, as he lifted the Los Angeles Lakers back atop the basketball world. And after a year where he was brilliant, on the court and off, James was announced as the winner of The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year award for a record-tying fourth time.
“I still know what I do on the floor and obviously, I give everything to the game,” James told AP. “But I can make a greater impact off the floor right now, more than I can on the floor. And I want to continue to inspire people with the way I play the game of basketball. But there’s so many more things that I can do off the floor to help cultivate people, inspire people, bring people together, empower them.”
The AP award was first given out in 1931. James’ fourth win matched Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods for the most by men. Three women have won the AP award at least four times; Babe Didrikson was a six-time winner, Serena Williams has won five and Chris Evert four.
No NBA player scored more points or had more assists in 2020 than James. The only other player in his lifetime to lead the league in points and assists in the same calendar year? Himself, in 2018.
“He’s the greatest player the basketball universe 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 every day, you’re coaching him, you’re seeing his mind, you’re seeing his adjustments, seeing the way he leads the group.
He is already eyeing 2021. The Lakers expect to be contenders again. His remake of “Space Jam” is expected to be released this summer. And James, who turns 36 Wednesday, hasn’t ruled out playing again for USA Basketball in the Tokyo Olympics.