James, who won the award for leading his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to its first-ever NBA title, said he hadn’t written his speech but was speaking “from the heart.” Immediately after thanking Sports Illustrated for honoring him with the Sportsperson of the Year award, James mentions Phelps’ as one of the great athletes to compete in the year 2016:
“There were so many unbelievable achievements in 2016, and we’ve seen so many great athletes,” James says. “Obviously, Mike Phelps, you got – we talk about you at the crib so much, man. You are literally a fish. Literally. Like, I have no idea how you do what you do. You would definitely win the game that me and my boys play – let’s see who can stay under the water the longest and not come up. You’re not invited to that game, by the way.”
Phelps is one of just two sports stories James specifically brings up in his recounting of the year, the other being the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. James is one of two two-time winners of the Sportsperson of the Year award, the other being Tiger Woods. Phelps was honored with the award back in 2008 after winning 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
You can watch the video on the Sports Illustrated site by following this link.