The NBA Playoffs don't begin until the end of April 2014, but if the current achievements of LeBron James are any implication of the Miami Heat's success, then teams better start battling for the chance to come in second place.
The reigning MVP was recently named the Associated Press Male Athlete Of The Year, making him only the third NBA player to receive the award.
James received 31 of 96 votes cast in a poll of news organizations, beating Peyton Manning (20) and Jimmie Johnson (7).
"I'm chasing something and it's bigger than me as a basketball player," James told the AP. "I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people. Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero ... those things mean so much, and that's what I think I was built for. I was put here for this lovely game of basketball, but I don't think this is the biggest role that I'm going to have."
James joins Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as NBA players to win the award.
Speaking of Larry the Legend, LeBron's recent 33-point downpour on the Sacramento Kings pushed him past Larry Bird and Gary Payton on the NBA's all-time scoring list in 29th place.
His current career total is 21,819.
Photo: Ezra Shaw