Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James turns 36 years old on Wednesday, just a couple of months after claiming his fourth career championship and NBA Finals MVP Award.
James unbelievably averaged 25.3 points, 10.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game in his 17th NBA season, leading L.A. to their first championship in 10 years. James also finished with the assists title for the first time in his storied career.
And he does not seem willing to slow down anytime soon, reportedly telling fellow All-Star, Anthony Davis, they had “more work to do” for the franchise after hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in the Orlando bubble.
James will celebrate his birthday in an unusual setting. Not because the 16-time All-Star will play that day — against the San Antonio Spurs — which he has done in his career before. Rather, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its prolonging impact on the United States that will prevent the forward from materializing any birthday plans he might have had.
However, when asked about games taking place on his birthday, James said he was “very fortunate” to be able to continue doing what he loved on his special day. “Coming from where I come from, a lot of people don’t even make it past 21,” he said.
“For me to be rounding the base at 36, playing the game I love to play, being with a great team and organization, with a great family, great friends and support system, it makes it a lot greater than the alternative. Just very blessed and very honored. I’m happy to be doing what I love to do.”
Davis reassured that the Lakers would celebrate James’ birthday in a responsible manner. “We’ve seen guys kind of violate those restrictions and have to sit out, so we definitely don’t want to violate any rules and have guys quarantine because of something we can control,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure the team or Coach will have something planned where we can do something in the hotel for him. Maybe have some food catered in. You do have to be creative, but at the same time make sure we stay within the guidelines.”
James missed Lakers fans at Staples Center on Christmas Day
The pandemic is still affecting the NBA in many ways, preventing most of the fans from cheering on the teams in person. The Lakers decided against letting spectators inside Staples Center at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, which meant of course even on Christmas Day the defending champions had to face the Dallas Mavericks in front of empty stands.
And James said he missed the presence of the fans during the 138-115 victory, emphasizing that Christmas Day games at Staples Center are special events. “Being at Staples Center for Christmas is an unbelievable feeling,” he said.
“Not the same without the Laker faithful, without the fans, celebrity row, without the bright lights. It’s just strictly basketball, which is fine, but our game is entertainment as well and when you’re out there you hope to entertain people live. Hopefully, we know we’re making a mark while they’re watching the game.”
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