When 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 since 2006.

"I remember just like yesterday when I signed here and basically, like the roof caved in," James said, referring to the fallout from his infamous "Decision" to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010. "To see that I and my team and everyone around me was able to patch that roof up, to come to this point and receive such a prestigious award, it's huge."

Past winners include Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Arthur Ashe, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, and Michael Phelps. College basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski - James' Olympic coach - and Pat Summitt shared the honor last year.

Westbrook's latest kicks

Nike released its newest flagship sneaker, the Jordan XX8 ("28" in Roman and Arabic). It's a controversial design. The sneakers look like black rubber rain boots with zippers, but underneath, however, the dominant color is neon green. The shoes, devised by Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, retail for $250 and will make their NBA debut Tuesday night when Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder plays against the Nets in Brooklyn.

Hornets find sting

Ryan Anderson scored 22 points, Robin Lopez added 21, and the New Orleans Hornets won for only the second time in 11 games, 102-81, over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.

Elsewhere: Luke Babbitt hit a pair of clutch three-pointers and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the host Charlotte Bobcats, 118-112, in overtime. . . . Brandon Knight scored 17 points, Tayshaun Prince had 15, and the Detroit Pistons beat the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, 89-79.

Blake Griffin poured in 30 points, and the Clippers edged the Jazz, 105-104 in Los Angeles. . . . The Denver Nuggets withstood a late rally to beat the visiting Toronto Raptors, 113-110. Denver center JaVale McGee blocked five shots.
- Associated Press