Over the course of the last decade, all LeBron James has done is collect three NBA championship trophies, been named Most Valuable Player the same amount of times (bring his total to four), and lead the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat, and—barring a catastrophic collapse this season—the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs. He’s been instrumental to what’s become known as the player empowerment movement after “The Decision” turned him into a comic book supervillain and he’s used his immense popularity and influence to address politics, racial inequality, social injustice, education, and a number of other issues that other all-time greats would never touch.
Simply put, he was easily one of the most important figures of the decade and now the Associated Press is acknowledging him as such.
On Sunday, the future NBA Hall of Famer was named AP’s male athlete of the decade, because, of course, he was. Who in the hell else is deserving of such a prestigious accolade? I’ll wait.
“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 told the AP. “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.”
Previous honorees include Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, and Arnold Palmer, each transcendent athletes in their own right. In winning such an illustrious award, King James beat out track and field superstar Usain Bolt, soccer legend Lionel Messi, 23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, and NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
In discussing his willingness to use his platform to create awareness around important issues affecting marginalized communities and other athletes, it’s a responsibility that James refuses to shy away from.
“I don’t live in regret,” James said. “There’s no moment in this last decade that I wish I could have back. If a situation was bad or you feel like you could have done better, then I learned from it.”
And after just becoming the only player in NBA history to accrue 9,000 assists, 9,000 rebounds, and 30,000 points, expect King James’ reign of terror to continue well within the next decade.