CLEVELAND — More than 45 minutes late to a news conference, LeBron James was one teen who didn't need an excuse.
"They had to drag me out bed to put this suit on," James said Tuesday, when he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. "I didn't want to get out. I thought I was going to practice when they woke me up this morning."
Hey, saving the Cleveland Cavaliers is hard work, and the 19-year-old James put the final touch on a remarkable season by becoming the rookie award's youngest recipient.
"I knew I would make an impact this year," said James, who easily beat Denver's Carmelo Anthony, also 19. "And I guess I did."
The 6-foot-8 guard made the jump from preps to pros look easy, somehow living up to the unprecedented hype. The No. 1 overall draft pick did more than just post jaw-dropping statistics night after night: He transformed Gund Arena into a hot spot, and he gave Cleveland fans reason to hope.
"He proved to all of us that he is up for a challenge. He exceeded all of our expectations and just kept raising the bar," Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund said.
James received 508 points, including 78 of a possible 118 first-place votes, to become the first Cleveland rookie honored.
Anthony, who left Syracuse after leading it to an NCAA championship as a freshman, finished with 430 points, including the other 40 first-place votes.
"People are going to think what they want to think," Anthony said. "I don't really know what else I could have done."
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat was third with 117 points in balloting by sports writers and broadcasters. Players received 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 for second and 1 for third.
"I thought it could go either way," said James, who praised Anthony for having a phenomenal season. "I thought it could be a split decision."