(WSCR) Armed with his first NBA championship ring, Heat superstar LeBron James has been named Sports Illustrated’s 2012 Sportsman of the Year.

The magazine cites James’ NBA championship, Olympic Gold medal and being named league MVP and Finals MVP as the reason behind their decision.

James now joins athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky as a recipient of this honor.  He is just one of six professional basketball players to be named Sportsman including Heat teammate Dwayne Wade (’06); Tim Duncan and David Robinson (’03), Michael Jordan (1991), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1985) and Bill Russell (1968).
Here’s Sports Illustrated’s explanation on how the award is given out:  “…the magazine presents the Sportsman of the Year award to the transcendent athlete, coach or team who by virtue of their superior athletic achievement and comportment took us all to a higher place.  The award debuted in 1954, and in describing the feats of the first Sportsman, Roger Bannister, the editors introduced the award’s guiding principle: ‘While the victory may have been his, it is not for the victory alone that he is honored. Rather, it is for the quality of his effort and manner of his striving.'”

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