DAPHNE, Ala. – LeBron James of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Italian speed skier Valentina Greggio have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athletes of the Month for April.
James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, his 17th career playoffs triple-double, as the Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 119-114 on 20 April 2017 in Indianapolis. It was the ninth time James scored at least 30 points as part of a playoff triple-double, passing Oscar Robinson and ranking him eighth in NBA history. He also tied Jerry West for the second-most postseason games with 30 points and 10 assists with 14. James finished the month of April averaging 30.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9 assists per game.
Greggio captured the World Cup overall title in speed skiing after winning gold in competition in Grandvalira, Andorra, on 12 April 2017. Greggio dominated the women’s season, winning the overall title and every World Cup speed skiing event of the season. The two athletes are now eligible to be considered for the Academy’s prestigious Athlete of the Year Award at year’s end.
The second place finisher on the men’s side was soccer player Lionel Messi of Argentina and third place went to Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia.
Messi scored two goals, including the game winner in stoppage time, as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-2 on 23 April 2017 in El Clasico, the name given to any match between the fierce rivals. With his two goals in the match, Messi reached the 500 career goal mark for Barcelona.
Garcia won golf’s Masters Tournament title on 9 April 2017 at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Garcia defeated England’s Justin Rose in the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to capture the first major tournament win of his career, his 10th PGA win. Garcia shot a 9-under-par 279 to win.
The second place finisher on the women’s side was University of Alabama track and field athlete Quanesha Burks and third place went to American hockey player Brianna Decker.
Burks won the women’s long jump on 28 April 2017 at the Southeastern Conference Relays in Baton Rouge, La., with a mark of 22 feet 7.25 inches (6.9 m). She is the national leader in the event this season and her jump was the second best in school history, second only to the mark she set in 2015. Burks also anchored the team’s 4×100 meter relay to a school record time of 43.17 seconds.
Decker was named the Most Valuable Player of the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship tournament in Plymouth, Mich., on 8 April 2017. Decker collected 12 points in five games and led all players with nine assists in the tournament. She was also named to the tournament All-Star Team and earned the Directorate Award as the tournament’s top forward. Team USA defeated Canada 3-2 in overtime in the tournament championship game on 7 April to win its fourth consecutive title.
Each month, the public is invited to participate in the Academy’s worldwide Athlete of the Month program by nominating athletes and then voting online during the first week of every month. The online votes are used to guide the Academy selection committee in choosing the male and female monthly winners, who then become eligible for selection to the prestigious Athlete of the Year ballot. A worldwide public vote on the annual ballot is used to guide the committee in making the final selection.
The Athlete of the Year Award is part of the United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport program, which each year serves as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport.
The awards honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness, and media, among others. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Medallion Series, Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 33rd year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,700 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.