LeBron James Named AP Athlete of Year Over Phelps

For the second time in two days, an American swimmer has finished second in the Associated Press’s Athlete of the Year voting, with Michael Phelps falling 8 votes shy of basketballer Lebron James.

On Monday, the AP announced that gymnast Simone Biles had won the Female Athlete of the Year award, with Katie Ledecky finishing second. On Tuesday, the AP revealed its Male Athlete of the Year – James, the NBA star who brought the first major sports title to his hometown of Cleveland since 1964. James becomes the second NBA player ever to win this award twice, joining Michael Jordan

Phelps finished just 8 votes back, with James getting 24 votes and Phelps 16. The award is voted on by 59 editors from AP member newspapers. Phelps is already a two-time winner of the award – in fact, this is the first Olympic year since 2004 in which Phelps wasn’t honored with the award. He won in both 2008 and 2012.

Others receiving votes were Jamaican track star Usain Bolt, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, NBA player Stephen Curry, soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, NFL player Von Miller and tennis player Andy Murray.

The AP Athlete of the Year award hasn’t often gone to a swimmer. Here’s a list of all previous swimmers to win the award, dating back to its inception in 1931:

  • 1931: Helene Madison
  • 1937: Katherine Rawls
  • 1942: Gloria Callen
  • 1944: Ann Curtis
  • 1962: Dawn Fraser
  • 1964: Don Schollander
  • 1969: Debbie Meyer
  • 1972: Mark Spitz
  • 1996: Amy van Dyken
  • 2008: Michael Phelps
  • 2012: Michael Phelps

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Lebron, in my opinion, deserved it this year. What he led his team to was incredible. Phelps and Bolt split the Olympic votes too much for Either to win


Yup,brought his team back from a 3-1 deficit, Kyrie was insane but Lebron put on what may be the best finals performance ever. His block in game 7 against Andre was nuts 20.6 mph


what he did was jordanesque. I agree he deserved it.


There will always be another Lebron. There will never be another Phelps.

Steve Nolan

Yeah, can’t really be too bummed w/ Ledecky or Phelps coming in 2nd.


8 less than 24 is a big difference. Not like he was 8 votes behind out of 400! Congrats to both for great years

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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