James helped Cleveland double win total

Updated: April 18, 2004, 12:56 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LeBron James, the super-hyped phenom who went from high school to the pros and kept the Cleveland Cavaliers in playoff contention until late in the season, has beaten out Carmelo Anthony in voting for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.

 LeBron James
James

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith confirmed Saturday an earlier Bloomberg News report that James will be presented with the award Tuesday.

James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds, drawing 16 sellout crowds to the Cavs' home arena and several more on the road. James' popularity made his jersey the best seller at the NBA's store in New York and through the league's Web site, and he helped the Cavs improve from 17 wins to 35.

Anthony led the Denver Nuggets into the playoffs, averaging 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. But James, 19, was only the third rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists, joining Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan.

His season-high was 41 points on March 27 against New Jersey made him the youngest player in league history to reach 40 points. James scored at least 30 points 13 times.

James was the Eastern Conference's rookie of the month in every month this season. He will become the first player in Cavs history to win the award.

"I won't comment on it until I know it's official," said James' agent, Aaron Goodwin.

Anthony, in Minneapolis for Game 1 of his team's playoff series against the Timberwolves, released a statement through a team spokesman: "If it's true, I'm really happy for LeBron, but I'm not real worried about the Rookie of the Year award right now. My focus is on Minnesota."

Cleveland finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference -- one game behind No. 8 Boston.

"We would have been dangerous in the playoffs," said coach Paul Silas, who proved to be the perfect coach for James and the young Cavs. "I think a lot of teams would have been afraid to play us."

Entering the season, Silas figured James would average "around 12 points," but he didn't know what else to expect from his talented rookie other than a media circus.

Now Silas has a better handle on James -- and how good he can be.

"One of the greats," Silas said after the season ended. "There's no telling how good he'll be. He's 19. Three years from now, he'll be 22 and the same age as a senior in college.

"All he has to do is work on his shot. He has everything else."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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