LOS ANGELES (AFP) - LeBron James has been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year for 2016 after fulfilling his pledge to end Cleveland's 52-year wait for a major championship.
James, 31, was the driving force behind the Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA Finals triumph, inspiring his team to a 4-3 victory after they had trailed the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in June.
It completed a personal odyssey for James, who had made winning a championship with Cleveland his goal after returning to the Cavs in 2014 after four successful seasons with the Miami Heat.
"In putting the Cavaliers on his back in the NBA Finals he also fulfilled a promise to his home city and to an entire region," Sports Illustrated's editorial team wrote in announcing the award.
"He was following through on that heartfelt, but risky, vow he made three summers ago when he returned home after four successful years in Miami."
It is the second time that James, a four-time NBA MVP who has now won three championship rings, has been named to the Sports Illustrated award.