I know, you must think I’m crazy. The man won MVP, won an Olympic Gold Medal, and took home his first NBA championship. Why wouldn’t he be sportsman of the year? Well, there are plenty of other great candidates (Andrew Luck would be one of my top candidates with the amazing year he had as a rookie QB taking the reins after a all-time great and of course Eli Manning’s heroics took the Giants to the super bowl), but I propose that Lebron shouldn’t have been sportsman of the year despite being the best sportsman of the year. Why? Because like Michael Phelps, he should have been disqualified.
Disqualified you say? Before calling me crazy, take a moment to think about it. Michael Phelps couldn’t have been sportsman of the year because he’s already won it in 2008. My proposal is that Lebron should have already won it, probably in 2009. His accomplishments in 2012 are great, but allow me to lay them out compared to 2009 and show you why he deserved it then more than now.
First of all he won the MVP in 2009 without even a question, and was the first Cavalier to do so. He did also win it in 2012 so that kind of cancels itself out. Looking at NBA.com’s stat’s for Lebron, compared to 2012, he played less minutes, scored more points (1.4 more per game), and had more assists(a full assist more per game) in 2009 vs 2012. All his other stats were pretty close, except he did shoot a lower percentage in 09, but when you’re the only star on the team you’re going to face stiffer defenses than he does in Miami, where double teaming him is likely to leave D-wade or Bosh open (and the difference really isn’t that great, .489 vs .531…and a lot of that has to do with James’ focus of going inside).
Besides his personal success, his team’s success in 09 compared to 12’s crew is astounding. With a team of which almost certainly he is the only potential future hall of famer (sorry Mo), he led them to a 66-16(a .804 win percentage) record, including a 39-2 home record, second best all time in NBA history. Heck, Michael Jordan with two future hall of famers(Pippen and Rodman) at his side only managed 6 more wins in the incredible NBA record season the Bulls went 72-10. Meanwhile in Miami’s 2012 campaign, they mustered just 46-20(a .697 win percentage). So with better teammates (again, apologies to the cavs team members), Lebron’s team actually lost more games in a shortened 66 game season than he did while carrying a team by himself? Which is the better campaign?
Not only that, but when Lebron left the cavs in 2010(imagine, the guy wanted some actual help…), the cavs team he’d carried to those heights, with virtually no other roster changes went from the number 1 team in the league during the regular season to the 30th. When Jordan retired after his first 3 peat? His team won 55 games without him. Not to say Jordan wasn’t great, and is still the greatest, but Lebron’s Cavs years and in particular 2009 were astounding.
So, then, the only difference in 2012 than in 2009 is Lebron and the Cavs fell short of NBA championship and a Miami Heat team who were ‘supposed’ to win the championship, did. Shouldn’t sportsman of the year be an individual achievement, and not weighted heavily against what your team did as a whole? Obviously they’re a huge part of your success as a player, but what James did for the Cavs(he made Mo Williams an all-star, and before and since he’s been an average starting point guard at best) proves he made that team have astronomically more success with him than without him. I echo the words of Brian Hutchison a correspondent whose article appears on on bleacher report.com, with slight modifications in brackets and bolds for emphasis (to reflect that James now has had a ring) “I apologize that James [was] on a bad team [in 2009]. I apologize that he [didn’t win] the ultimate team accolade [in 2009], yet. But, does that mean he can’t be the single greatest player of all time?” But what do I know, I’ve just looked at the facts.
All stats from NBA.com, Brian Hutchison’s article can be found here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/175786-the-2009-nbas-all-underrated-team-starring-lebron-james/page/4