James a dom­i­nant force with ti­tles on Heat, Cavs

Orlando Sentinel - - WEATHER - By Tim Reynolds

He left Cleve­land for Mi­ami, fi­nally be­came a cham­pion, went back to his beloved north­east Ohio, de­liv­ered on an­other ti­tle prom­ise, then left for the Los Angeles Lak­ers and the next chal­lenge.

He played in eight straight fi­nals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started a school. He mar­ried his high school sweet­heart.

“That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feign­ing dis­be­lief.

No, that’s not all. Those were just some high­lights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reign­ing over all oth­ers — with no signs of slow­ing down.

James is the As­so­ci­ated Press Male Ath­lete of the Decade, adding his name to a list that in­cludes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gret­zky and Arnold Palmer. He was a run­away win­ner in a vote of AP mem­ber sports edi­tors and AP beat writ­ers, eas­ily out­pac­ing run­ner-up Tom Brady of the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots.

“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, who turned 35 on Mon­day, 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.”

Usain Bolt of Ja­maica was third for dom­i­nat­ing the sprints at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, soccer su­per­star Lionel Messi was fourth and Michael

Phelps — the U.S. swim­mer who re­tired as his­tory’s most dec­o­rated Olympian with 28 medals, 23 gold — was fifth.

In his 17th sea­son, James is on pace to lead the league in as­sists for the first time while re­main­ing among its scor­ing lead­ers.

“When LeBron James is in­volved,” Den­ver coach Michael Malone said, “I’m never sur­prised.”

In­clud­ing play­offs, no one in the NBA scored more points than James in the last 10 years. He started the decade 124th on the league’s all-time scor­ing list. He’s now about to pass Kobe Bryant for No. 3. No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Ka­reem Abdul-Jab­bar are within reach.

Is Abdul-Jab­bar in his sights? Is catch­ing him the new decade’s goal?

“I would be ly­ing if I said I don’t see it,” James said. “Ob­vi­ously I’m not try­ing to sayO, `K, well, if I play this amount of time, if I av­er­age this.’ I’m not do­ing that be­cause I’ve never done that with my ca­reer. I’ve al­ways just kind of let it hap­pen.

What­ever hap­pens, hap­pens, but I see it. I do see it.”

His work ethic, even now, makes even those clos­est to him mar­vel.

Here’s a typ­i­cal day this past sum­mer for James, who re­mains ob­sessed with work­ing even though fame and for­tune found him long ago: He’d wake up at 3 a.m. and be at the Warner Bros. lot by 3:45 — where a weight room and court, built just for him, were wait­ing. He’d be lift­ing by 4 a.m., get­ting shots up by 5:30 and be ready to start an­other day of shoot­ing the re­make of “Space Jam” that he has been plan­ning for years by 7 a.m.

“That’s who he is,” said Mike Man­cias, one of the long­est-tenured and most trusted mem­bers of James’ in­ner cir­cle, tasked for more than 15 years with keep­ing James fit.

“He does what­ever it takes when it comes to ful­fill­ing his com­mit­ments to ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially his game and his craft.”

RINGO H.W. CHIU/AP

The Lak­ers’ LeBron James played on three teams in the 2010s and won ti­tles with the Cava­liers and Heat.

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