"CC photograph courtesy of "scott mecum" on Flickr"

Best of the Sports World, 2012: LeBron James | By Ryan Schaub

Following one of the most entertaining seasons in NBA history, one that saw the beginning of the “Big 3 Era” in Miami end in disappointment against Dallas, there was a tremendous amount of intrigue and expectation heading into the 2012 season. The NBA lockout only served to heighten this excitement for NBA fans, who were given the gift of a condensed 66 game season starting on Christmas Day. On this night the Miami Heat squared off against the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks in an NBA Finals rematch. The Miami Heat steamrolled the defending champs, leading by 32 after three quarters, where LeBron James racked up a stat line of 37 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Christmas served as the perfect foreshadowing for 2012, a year dominated by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

The Heat got off to a fast start to the 2012 season, going 27-7 before the All-Star break where each member of the “Big 3” was named an All-Star. Miami went on to win the Southeast Division title with a record of 46-20 on the season and entered the playoffs as the second seed in the East. Miami cruised through their first round match-up with the New York Knicks, and then took on the Indiana Pacers in the conference-semis. Miami fell to 1-2 in the series without the services of Chris Bosh, who suffered an abdominal strain in Game 1 against Indiana.  LeBron James then had one of his marquee games of the postseason in Game 4, where he had 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists to lift the Heat over the Pacers to tie the series.  Miami proceeded to win the next two games and take the series in six. In the Conference Finals Miami faced off against the fourth seeded Boston Celtics in what turned out to be a dramatic and captivating series, as the Heat fell to 2-3 in the series, and were on the brink of elimination going into Boston for Game 6. On that night LeBron James had one of the greatest playoff performances of all time, tallying 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 19-of-26 from the field. Miami went on to win the game and eventually the series, becoming repeat Eastern Conference Champions. Next Miami faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals, a matchup all NBA fans were anxious to see. This highly anticipated bout ended quickly however, with Miami winning four consecutive games after dropping Game 1 at home.  Most notable was the Game 5 clincher in Miami where LeBron James recorded a triple double and celebrated winning his first career NBA title. This was the second NBA championship in the history of the 24 year old Heat franchise, and marked the day LeBron James disproved all his doubters.  When asked to sum up his feelings, James responded with “It’s about damn time,” much to the approval of his home crowd.

Along with his first ring, LeBron James added many more accolades to his already impressive résumé.  James was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the regular season for the third time in his career, joining only seven others in history who have done the same.  This prestigious award was presented to LeBron following a season where he averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists, while shooting career highs of 53% from the field and 36% from three-point range.  As well he was awarded the NBA Finals MVP trophy following the emphatic series victory over the Thunder.  Following the postseason LBJ joined the United States Olympic basketball team for the Summer Games in London, helping the USA squad go undefeated throughout the tournament while making history by becoming the first player ever to record a triple double in an Olympic game.  By winning an Olympic Gold Medal in the same year as an NBA title, the NBA MVP and Finals MVP honours, LeBron James joined Michael Jordan (1992) as the only players ever to do so.  In light of these extraordinary accomplishments, LeBron James was named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated over other worthy candidates like Usain Bolt, Rory McIlroy and Michael Phelps.

The accomplishments of LeBron James in 2012 have officially made him one of the elite players of all time, and have sentenced the infamous “Decision” to a mere footnote in the legacy of LeBron James. LBJ is the best player in the world today, and appears to be igniting the dynasty run that was promised two summers ago.

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