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LeBron James chosen as SI's Sportsman of the Year

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LeBron James chosen as SI's Sportsman of the Year

MIAMI (AP) 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 the award since Heat teammate Dwyane Wade in 2006.

``I remember just like yesterday when I signed here and basically, like the roof caved in,'' James told The Associated Press, 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, 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.

Time Inc. Sports Group editor Paul Fichtenbaum said one thing separating James this year was that when Miami needed him most ``he came up the biggest.'' In particular, Game 4 of the second-round series at Indiana and Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at Boston.

``LeBron kind of made it easy on us,'' Fichtenbaum said. ``In a year that had really high standards, he just stood taller than everybody else.''

James won essentially all he could win in 2012: He became an NBA champion for the first time, won the NBA Finals MVP trophy, helped the U.S. win Olympic gold for the second time and picked up his third NBA MVP award.

Fichtenbaum said James was the choice not only for his play but also because of his charitable work, especially involving schoolchildren in his native Akron, Ohio.

``I do think there has been some sort of closure - maybe not entirely in Cleveland, but across the nation,'' Fichtenbaum said. ``LeBron's jerseys are now the No. 1-selling jerseys. I think there's a reason for that. I think people really appreciate him for everything he can do.''

This is the 18th time James will be on SI's cover, the magazine said. His first time was as a high school junior in February 2002, when the magazine famously dubbed him ``The Chosen One'' and touted how he would have been an NBA lottery pick even then.

The first 17 covers were different: Only this one has James wearing an NBA championship ring.

James said the sportsman honor was humbling considering this was year in which Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin starred at the London Olympics, Miguel Cabrera became baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years and Roger Federer captured Wimbledon for the seventh time.

``Do I need it? I don't need it,'' James said. ``I don't ever look for individual accolades. I do what I do because I love it and I want to continue to get better at it.''

The Dec. 10 issue of SI is out Wednesday, the same day James will be honored at the magazine's Sportsman of the Year awards gala in New York.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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