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James is the AP’s Male Athlete of 2018

December 28, 2018

LeBron James went to the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive year. He changed addresses again, leaving his Cleveland home for the second time to join the Los Angeles Lakers in the biggest move of free agency over the summer. He remained arguably the dominant player in the basketball, adding even more glitz on a legacy that reached epic status long ago.

It was, by any measure, a fantastic year for James. And even without a title, it may have been his most significant year.

For the third time, James has been selected as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year -- after 2018 saw him continue to excel on the court, open the “I Promise” school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and further use his voice as an activist who bristled at being told to “shut up and dribble.”

James received 78 points in balloting by U.S. editors and news directors announced Thursday, while Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts was second with 46. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was third, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was fourth and Triple Crown winner Justify was fifth.

On the court, James remained dominant. He averaged 28.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.4 assists in 2018 between his time with the Cavaliers and Lakers, playing in 102 games through Thursday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Clemson star suspended

Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will not play against No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl after the NCAA confirmed a suspension for a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs, possibly ending the talented junior’s college career. Lawrence is one of three Clemson players who tested positive for ostarine, a substance used to treat osteoporosis that can act like an anabolic steroid. The usual NCAA suspension for a failed PED test is one calendar year. Earlier Thursday, Lawrence participated in No. 2 Clemson’s College Football Playoff media day session at AT&T Stadium and said he has no idea what may have led to the failed test.

Daniel Jones threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns, T.J. Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two scores, and Duke blew past Temple 56-27 in the Independence Bowl. Duke (8-5) snapped a two-game losing streak by putting on an offensive show. The Blue Devils scored touchdowns on seven straight drives, flipping a 27-14 deficit in the second quarter to a 56-27 lead by midway through the fourth.

Jonathan Taylor ran for 205 yards and a touchdown and topped the 2,000-yard season mark to help Wisconsin rout Miami 35-3 in a chilly Pinstripe Bowl. Taylor, just a sophomore, ripped off runs of 39 and 41 yards and was sensational at Yankee Stadium, and combined with a defense that forced five turnovers to help a Wisconsin (8-5) team ranked fourth in the first AP Top 25 poll salvage its fifth straight bowl victory.

PRO HOCKEY

All-Star captains named

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will be two of the four team captains at the NHL All-Star weekend next month in San Jose. McDavid (Pacific Division), Matthews (Atlantic), Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (Central) and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan) won fan votes to earn the captaincies and the first roster spots for the event, Jan. 25-26. The rest of the All-Stars will be determined by the NHL’s hockey operations department.

PRO BASEBALL

Nationals add Sanchez

Anibal Sanchez has a new team and his same catcher. The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a two-year, $19 million contract with the right-hander. The deal includes a team option for 2021. Sanchez, 34, will add depth to Washington’s new-look rotation after boosting his appeal with a comeback season for NL East rival Atlanta. The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal earlier this month. Sanchez said the two-year deal was important at his age. He said another factor was maintaining his relationship with catcher Kurt Suzuki.

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