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Athlete of the Year: LeBron James

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

In a year mired in obstacles and uncertainty, LeBron James rose above it all.

Whether we liked it or not.

James was a polarizing figure for much of 2020. Not everyone appreciated his outspokenness about political or social justice issues. There are some people who still refuse to acknowledge his place among the game of basketball’s all-time greats.

But in the end, James achieved what he had set out to do: lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA championship.

The numbers speak for themselves. In his 17th NBA season, at age 35, James averaged 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and a league-leading 10.2 assists per game. When the Lakers vanquished the Miami Heat to claim the NBA title, he became the first player to lead three different teams to league championships (winning NBA Finals MVP each time).

He also helped lead his team and the city of Los Angeles through a terrible time of mourning after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. Said James at a ceremony honoring Bryant: “The fact that I’m here now means so much to me. I want to continue along with my teammates, to continue his legacy, not only for this year, but for as long as we can play the game of basketball that we love because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”

For all of the above, LeBron James is an easy choice for our 2020 Athlete of the Year.

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