LeBron again Cleveland’s best

LeBron James regained his crown.

After losing to former Indians pitchers the past two years,

James was again chosen the city’s top professional athlete on

Wednesday night at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, an event

the superstar has skipped since his senior year in high school.

The NBA’s reigning MVP, James won the award for the fourth time,

beating out Cavaliers teammate Mo Williams and Browns tackle Joe

Thomas. Last year, James lost to AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee,

traded last year by the Indians. In 2007, James finished behind

former Indians ace CC Sabathia, who helped the New York Yankees win

the World Series last year.

Thomas laughed when he was asked how he lost to James.

“Until I win NFL MVP I don’t think I have any chance against

LeBron,” he said.

Cavs general manager Danny Ferry accepted the award on behalf of

James, who hasn’t attended since 2003.

James thanked Cleveland fans in a video message he taped earlier

in the day.

He blamed prior engagements for missing the show and had a

built-in excuse since the Cavaliers, who have won nine straight

games, will host Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat on Thursday.

While James was absent, some of Cleveland’s other top athletes,

including Thomas, former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley, Indians

outfielder Grady Sizemore and third baseman Jhonny Peralta, former

Cavaliers Campy Russell and Austin Carr, Olympic skating gold

medalists Carol Heiss Jenkins and her husband, Hayes, and new

Browns GM Tom Heckert were on hand.

The awards show was hosted by ESPN college football broadcaster

Kirk Herbstreit.

Heckert was warmly received in his first public appearance since

being hired by Cleveland last month after spending nine years with

the Philadelphia Eagles. Now that he has had a chance to

familiarize himself with the Browns’ roster, Heckert sees

potential.

“We have probably more talent than I originally thought as an

outsider looking in,” he said. “Plus, you throw in the draft

picks (Cleveland has 11) and we have some money to do something in

free agency if there’s somebody available, so I think we have a

chance to be a better football team.”

Heckert spent part of last week at the Senior Bowl, where

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was picked apart by scouts, analysts

and coaches, many of whom think his future is as a tight end.

Heckert, though, believes Tebow has a chance to be an impact player

in the NFL – as a quarterback.

“Now, where he goes, and how well he plays, that’s the

question,” Heckert said. “Everything besides actually playing the

position, he’s got it all. He’s everything you want, the greatest

kid in the world. People can knock him all they want, but he won a

ton of games. And they didn’t just run the ball. He threw the ball

and threw the ball well.

“It’s tough to knock a kid like that, but to say he’s going to

be a franchise quarterback, that’s going to be a big decision for

whoever takes him.”

Heckert had little to say about Cleveland’s muddled quarterback

situation, in which Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson have both

underperformed expectations.

“It’s probably a little too early to say on both of them,” he

said. “It’s a difficult decision and we have to get together and

we have not made any decisions on anybody. That’s going to be

something that’s going to happen down the road. They both have

talent, there’s no doubt about it. They both played well at times

and we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”