LeBron James ESPY Awards 2012: LeBron Is No Longer the Villain He Once Was

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJuly 12, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat answers questions from the media next to the Larry O'Brien Finals Championship trophy during his post game press conference after they won 121-106 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LeBron James claimed three awards at the 2012 ESPY Award show, including Male Athlete of the Year.

Actually, he was not even on hand to physically claim the awards himself, as he was in Las Vegas training with the US Olympic basketball squad.

Nonetheless, James was named the NBA Player of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year and was given the award for the best Championship Performance of the Year.

It has to be nice for James to receive some positive recognition, as he probably would have also been named "Most Heavily Scrutinized" if that award were given away.

All three awards were well-earned for LeBron, who finally obtained his first NBA title this year with the Miami Heat.

He was already awarded the NBA MVP trophy after averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game in 2011-12—so the fact that he was named NBA Player of the Year is no surprise.

Then he ratcheted up that performance as he seemed to just will the Miami Heat to victory at times in the playoffs, averaging 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.  

His best moment, possibly the best moment of the entire NBA season, came in Boston during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals when the Heat were on the brink of elimination.

James responded by taking the game into his own hands and methodically dismantling the Celtics by scoring 45 points and pulling down 15 rebounds with a gargantuan field goal percentage of .731. 

Even Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's 1.41 goals-against average in their Stanley Cup run was no match for James' dominance.

Add all that up, and no other male athlete had a year quite like the one LeBron had.

Those three ESPYs are a testament to the fact that James may be the best athlete of his generation in any sport.

Not only that, but after this 2011-12 season, it goes to show how much a star player and a great performance can mean to a sport and a league.

It is on nights like these where the NBA's ugly lockout of 2011 seems like nothing more than a distant memory.

After the intense scrutiny James was under, the obstacles the NBA has had to overcome as a whole and the subsequent 2012 playoff run, you can bet LeBron is thinking the same thing about winning the ESPYs as he was about the NBA title: it's about damn time.