It’s hard to argue against the King.
Following 10 years in which the basketball star won an Olympic gold medal, dominated the NBA as a member of three different teams and raised his profile through new entertainment venues and championing social causes, James on Sunday was named the Associated Press male athlete of the decade. He joins fellow Olympian Serena Williams, who was named the AP’s female athlete of the decade on Saturday.
Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won 12 of his record 28 Olympic medals in this decade, finished fourth in the voting.
James, too, earned Olympic hardware in the decade, helping the U.S. men’s basketball team win a gold medal at the Olympic Games London 2012. It marked his third Olympic medal, and second gold in a row. Afterward he was named USA Basketball Male Player of the Year.
It was in the NBA, however, where James really made his mark. He led his teams to the NBA Finals eight years in a row, winning three times — in 2012 and 2013 with the Miami Heat, and then in 2016 with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. The latter marked the city’s first major pro sports title in 52 years.
James was named NBA Finals MVP in each of those three years, and he was named NBA MVP in 2010, 2012 and 2013 (in addition to 2009).
Download the Team USA app today to keep up with basketball and all your favorite sports, plus access to videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios, and more.
As the decade comes to a close, James, who joined the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the 2018-19 season, ranks fourth in all-time NBA scoring, ninth in assists and 15th in steals. He’s currently leading the NBA in assists per game, which if it sticks would be a first for him.
Notably, James has also used his platform to support social causes, including notably his “I PROMISE” school that opened in 2018 his hometown of Akron, Ohio. James has spoken out in support of racial injustice and other issues.
Lately, he’s become more involved in the entertainment industry as well, through acting, his production company and his show, called “The Shop.”
And James, who turns 35 on Monday, is still going strong on the court. He’s in the midst of his 17th NBA season, and after electing not to play in the 2016 Olympics he said earlier this year that playing for Team USA in Tokyo 2020 was “a possibility.”
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.