On top of being the best basketball player in the NBA, LeBron James also happens to be one of the top athletes in the planet—and now has some more hardware to prove it. On Thursday morning, the Miami Heat megastar was named The Associated Press’ 2013 Male Athlete of the Year.
According to the AP's Tim Reynolds, James is the third NBA player—after Larry Bird and Michael Jordan—to earn this distinction.
He received 31 of 96 votes from a panel of news organizations, with NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning finishing in second with 20 votes and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson placing third with seven.
James told the AP that he is still striving to become better both on and off the court, an impressive goal considering the success he has already achieved in the NBA and the time he puts into charity:
I'm chasing something and it's bigger than me as a basketball player. I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people. Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero...those things mean so much, and that's what I think I was built for. I was put here for this lovely game of basketball, but I don't think this is the biggest role that I'm going to have.
James’ 2013 has been filled with major events and milestones. The 28-year-old outlasted the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs in consecutive seven-game series to win his second straight NBA championship, was one vote shy of a unanimous MVP ballot, married his longtime girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, and took part in a number of business-related endeavors.
Still, LeBron admitted that this year doesn’t feel much different for him, per Reynolds.
"I don't think I've changed much this year. I've just improved and continued to improve on being more than just as a basketball player. I've matured as a leader, as a father, as a husband, as a friend,” James said.
Clearly, King James is far from satisfied. Though cementing his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood is pressure-packed, James' focus in unwavering, per Reynolds.
"I'm so zoned in on what my task is here this year that it's hard to think about anything else. A guy the other day asked me what I'm going to do for New Year's, and I haven't even thought about that," James added.
The Heat are currently 22-6 on the season and rank just behind the rival Pacers in the Eastern Conference standings. LeBron has guided Miami to a six-game winning streak just in time for the new year.
James’ most recent conquest was the Los Angeles Lakers in a nationally televised Christmas Day contest. The Heat won, 101-95, with James throwing down some monster dunks in the process:
The sky is the limit for James in 2014, and it will be interesting to see if this superstar can top the impressive list of goals he accomplished this year. With the way things are currently going, it is hard to imagine him failing to do so.
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