Is LeBron James the Greatest Of All Time? Pat Riley Thinks So

By Staff Reporter, Posted: 12/03/12 11:13AM EST

Sports Illustrated has named LeBron James its Sportsman of the Year, and in a wonderful profile by Lee Jenkins, it's revealed that Pat Riley considers LeBron the greatest player of all time. 

The term has been shortened/stylized to be just GOAT. Riley adds a twist to it though: he changes the word "greatest" to "best". 

So yes, the hall of fame former coach and current GM of the Miami Heat calls James "BOAT". 

The Sportsman of the Year award is a venerable award from Sports Illustrated, one of the legacy publications that goes back to the glory years of print. Past winners reads like a who's who of sports pantheon, with names such as Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Arthur Ashe, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Michael Phelps. 

Perhaps fittingly, the man whom Riley knocks off the "BOAT" pedestal, Michael Jordan, has inexplicably never won the award -- even though he's the most celebrated athlete of the past several decades.

James tells the Associated Press about winning the honor: "I remember just like yesterday when I signed here and basically, like the roof caved in. To see that I and my team and everyone around me was able to patch that roof up, to come to this point, to come to this point and receive such a prestigious award, it's huge."

The 27-year-old James has indeed had an amazing year, winning about just everything there is to win: NBA championship, Olympic gold medal, NBA Most Valuable Player award for both regular season and Finals. 

Perhaps most importantly, he won the respect of peers and fans, for the ringless jokes were finally buried. 

James is on the current cover of Sports Illustrated now. It's his 18th Sports Illustrated cover. 

Of course, SI gave him his very first cover, of any kind, back in 2002, when James was still a junior in high school. 



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