Today marks the 36th birthday of the LA Lakers’ LeBron James. The future Hall of Famer continues to dazzle NBA fans and critics alike, winning a fourth title and fourth Finals MVP two months ahead of his natal day.
James has had some memorable games on his birthday and with a game today against the San Antonio Spurs, he could add to the list with another breathtaking performance.
Let’s look back at the top 5 birthday performances of LeBron James’ career:
5. 33rd Birthday, December 30, 2017
Cleveland Cavaliers 101, Jazz 104
Key Stats: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
This was a painful birthday performance for LeBron James, particularly because his team lost and he committed six turnovers.
However, unknown to everyone and perhaps even to James himself, this was going to be the last time he would play a birthday game with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
His performance wasn’t really that bad, in fact, it was still very good by most standards. LeBron James scored 29 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the field. He rebounded, assisted, and defended in an excellent all-around performance that most players would dream of having. And the Cavs lost by just three points.
Remember, too, that this game came at a time when the Cavs had pieces on the roster that didn’t exactly fit, and coach Tyronn Lue was having difficulty mixing and matching his lineups.
4. 29th Birthday, Dec. 30, 2013
Miami Heat 97, Denver Nuggets 94
Key Stats: 26 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 5 three-pointers
LeBron James was the reigning MVP two years in a row and he showed why he was the best player on the planet on his 29th birthday. He almost didn’t play in this game because of a groin injury that kept him from playing the previous game.
Not known as a 3-point shooter, James drilled five shots from long distance and kept the Denver Nuggets at bay with his mastery of the offense. He shot 8-of-15 from the field and 5-of-9 from three in an efficient display of basketball brilliance.
Not only did LeBron James score 26 points, but he also dished out 10 assists to give the Miami Heat the win on the road.
3. 24th birthday, December 30, 2008
Cleveland Cavaliers 95, Miami Heat 104
Key Stats: 38 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks
Back when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were just rivals on the court with a friendship that was still growing, the former delivered a birthday game for the ages. The only thing that ruined the atmosphere was the nine-point loss to the Miami Heat.
Nevertheless, LeBron James poured in 38 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent from three, while knocking in 11-of-14 free throws. Of those 38, 24 points came in the second half, erasing a 16-point deficit that gave his Cavs a fighting chance to win the ballgame.
Unfortunately for the King, his subjects didn’t follow his lead as only Delonte West (20) and Mo Williams (10) scored in double-figures for Cleveland.
2. 27th Birthday, December 30, 2011
Miami Heat 103 Minnesota Timberwolves 101
Key Stats: 34 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 61.5 percent FG
A game-winning alley-oop on your birthday? LeBron James delivered a sweet alley-oop pass to his good buddy Dwyane Wade with 4.6 seconds left to give the Miami Heat a 103-101 victory on the King’s 27th birthday.
James was feeling good on this night as he was on fire from the start, scoring 15 points in the first quarter alone. He controlled the game from beginning to end, putting the ball in the hole with uncanny accuracy with a 61.5 percent field goal shooting clip.
LeBron James just missed a triple-double by two rebounds and even had four steals and a block at the other end of the court. It was truly a masterful performance on a day when all eyes are expecting greatness from him on his special day.
''You know my birthday when I turned 15 or I turned 9, when I was growing up, it wasn't the best of days on my birthday,'' James said. ''To see where I am today, and to be able to turn 21 and be in the NBA and turn 22 and now turn 27 and be a part of this league, it's a testament. It's also I'm very humbled that I am able to be here and I'm very blessed.''
1. 25th Birthday, December 30, 2009
Cleveland Cavaliers 106, Atlanta Hawks 101
Key Stats: 48 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
This was the absolute best LeBron James birthday performance. It may even be the best birthday performance by an NBA player ever. James almost went for 50 on this night, dropping 48 points on a sizzling 15-of-23 shooting. He also made 4-of-6 shots from 3-point territory.
And LeBron James had the time and energy to have an all-around performance as well with 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks. Best of all, the Cleveland Cavaliers won even if the game-winning basket came from someone else.
Anderson Varejao scored on the first three-pointer of his career with only 17.2 seconds remaining in the game. It was the perfect birthday gift for LeBron James.
"That's a great gift," James said. "I had Andy in the gift exchange and so he paid me back. That's what friends are for."
LeBron James led the Cavs to the win when they went on a 22-7 run after trailing by 17 points in the third quarter. It was James who scored a three from the left wing to cut the Atlanta Hawks lead down to two, 76-74.
That set up the wild finish that was capped off by the Varejao three. It was the perfect end to LeBron James’ 25th birthday celebration.Published 31 Dec 2020, 08:31 IST