Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lebron James named USA Basketball 2012 Athlete of the Year


Source : USA Basketball

Following a year in which he helped lead the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team to a gold medal, the USA Men’s National Team to an unblemished exhibition record and the Miami Heat to the 2012 NBA Championship, LeBron James (Miami Heat) was named the 2012 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

James is one of just two players in the history of the game to win MVP, the NBA Championship and the Olympics in the same year, along with Michael Jordan.

“It’s an honor that I have been named the 2012 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year,” James said. “It’s always an honor to represent my country. I never do it to be recognized or to receive an award, I do it because I love my country and the game of basketball. It is an honor to be recognized with this award, it’s humbling.”

Starting in all eight Olympic wins for the USA, James averaged 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, a team-high 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 60.3 percent from the field July 29–Aug. 12 in London.

“LeBron was the central figure on this team,” said Mike Krzyzewski, USA and Duke head coach. “He was our leader, our best player, our playmaker. He led us in assists, 45 assists and only eight turnovers, and he did that having just won an NBA championship, being MVP of the finals and of the league, so he was very unselfish. I thought he really showed amazing leadership. His ability to communicate with everyone, that means players and coaches, and get us all on the same page was really incredible. I’m so proud of him.”

James is now one of three U.S. players to participate in three Olympics. He owns two Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012) and one bronze (2004).

“LeBron is very deserving of this award, and USA Basketball is proud to celebrate his performance in 2012, as well as his commitment to playing for his country,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO. “He was a great teammate during the Olympics, and his leadership was invaluable to the team’s success.”

USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year Award was established in 1980 to recognize a USA Basketball athlete who, during the year of the award, made a significant impact on the success of his team’s performance. The USA Basketball Board of Directors is responsible for selecting USA Basketball’s annual awards.

James joins an impressive list of past recipients, including: Kevin Durant (2010), Jason Kidd (2007), Carmelo Anthony (2006), Chris Paul (2004), Tim Duncan (2003), Reggie Miller (2002), Alonzo Mourning (2000, 1990), Gary Payton (1999), Elton Brand (1998), Earl Boykins (1997), Scottie Pippen (1996 and as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team), Ray Allen (1995), Shaquille O’Neal (1994), Michael Finley (1993), Christian Laettner (1991), Larry Johnson (1989), Dan Marjerle (1988), Danny Manning (1987), David Robinson (1986 and as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team), Chuck Person (1985), Michael Jordan (1984, 1983 and as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team), Sam Perkins (1984) and Isaiah Thomas (1980).

Among all competitors at the 2012 Olympic games, James ranked No. 2 in assists (45), No. 7 in assists averaged (1.4) and No. 9 in points (106) and field goal percentage (.603).

With the USA trailing Lithuania 82-80 in the fourth quarter of preliminary round play, LeBron scored nine of his 20 points in the last four minutes to help the U.S. to a hard-fought 99-94 win.

In the quarterfinal game against Australia on Aug. 8, James finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for the first triple-double in U.S. Olympic history and just the second triple-double in the Olympics overall (since assists were kept as an official statistic in 1976). His 12 assists tied the all-time U.S. Olympic single-game high, and his 14 rebounds tied the overall 2012 Olympic single-game high.

In the gold medal game against Spain on Aug. 12, James tallied 19 points, seven rebounds and dished out a team-high four assists.

In the U.S. Olympic career record book, James is tied with David Robinson for most games played (24) and lists No. 1 in points scored (273), field goals made (113) and assists (88), as well as No. 2 in rebounds (95) and field goals attempted (188), No. 3 in field goals made (78) and 3-pointers attempted (58), tied for No.3 in steals (36), tied for No. 4 in 3-pointers made (22) and tied for No. 5 in blocked shots (10).

Prior to the Olympics, James helped lead the 2012 USA Men’s National Team to a 5-0 exhibition slate from July 12–24 with wins against Dominican Republic, Brazil, Great Britain, Argentina and Spain.

During the five exhibition wins, James started in all five games and led the team with 18.6 points per game to go along with 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game in 25.8 minutes per game, and he shot 59.0 percent from the field and 50.0 from 3-point.

Also in 2012, James led the Miami Heat to the NBA Championship and earned a third NBA MVP award and his first NBA Finals MVP award. He started and played in 57 games in 2011-12, and averaged 37.5 minutes, 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting career highs of 53.1 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from 3-point and 77.1 percent from the foul line. He finished 2011-12 ranked No. 1 in efficiency ranking, No. 2 in field goals made and free throws made and attempted, No. 3 in points per game, No. 4 in steals per game and field goals attempted and No. 6 in minutes per game.

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