LeBron James learned he was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, the Miami Heat star was surprised.  Not because he thought his achievements in 2012 weren’t worthy, but because he figured what happened in 2010 was still holding him back.

Apparently, that’s no longer the case. The magazine announced its annual choice Monday, with James becoming the first NBA player to win the award since Heat teammate Dwyane Wade in 2006.

It’s not that the traditional award shouldn’t be handed out by the most prestigious sports magazine, or that it doesn’t matter. Just that it should be taken with perspective, as Bob Costas would say, because sporting achievement is only that. Sporting achievement. Formal recognition of LeBron James as the year’s greatest athlete isn’t a bad thing – and it’s probably well deserved, because it’s hard to say any one athlete was better than him.

He joins past Sportsman of the Year selections such as Brett Favre, Michael Phelps, Derek Jeter and Drew Brees.