LeBron James Named AP Male Athlete of the Decade over Tom Brady, More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) reacts during an NBA basketball game between Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 111-106. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

LeBron James was named the Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Decade, according to the AP's Tim Reynolds.

The Los Angeles Lakers star beat out Tom Brady, Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi and Michael Phelps for the honor. Serena Williams was the AP's Female Athlete of the Decade.

"You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences," James said of the award. "A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 and I’m just in a better (place) in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life."

James added that marrying his wife Savannah was his best moment from the decade.

Over the last 10 years, Brady won three Super Bowls in a league that makes it nearly impossible to remain a title contender for more than a few years. Bolt and Phelps won six and nine Olympic gold medals, respectively. Messi was a six-time La Liga champion, two-time Champions League winner, and a five-time Ballon d'Or recipient.

None of the four impacted their sport in the way James did, however.

He opened the decade by signing with the Miami Heat. The move not only helped usher in an era of superteams but also accelerated the frequency of offseason movement for the NBA's top stars. Kevin Durant told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck in June 2017 that James "paved the way" after he signed with the Golden State Warriors.

Beginning in 2010, James reached eight straight NBA Finals and won three titles. His greatest triumph arguably came in 2016, when he brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first championship and beat the 73-win Warriors in the Finals.