LOS ANGELES — Lakers star LeBron James turned 35 years old today, and while it makes his production during the 17th year of his storied NBA career all the more impressive, it also begs a simple question: What type of present do you get for a man worth an estimated $480 million? Don’t expect James to offer any help in picking it out.
“I don’t have birthday wishes to be honest. I’m not a birthday wish guy,” James said last night.
To his point, one of his closest friends on the team and the guy whose locker sits right next to his was completely unaware of the occasion.
“It’s his birthday tomorrow?” Anthony Davis asked a reporter who brought it up.
But wait, does that mean Davis didn’t get James a gift?
“Nah I’m not getting him no gift,” Davis said before turning to James and asking “Why, you want a gift?”
“Yeah, for you to get the hell out of my face,” James shot back, sarcastically messing with Davis in the dry-humor style he often does during the latter’s postgame media scrums. But if James’ wish was serious, well, Davis didn’t grant it.
But James isn’t spending his whole birthday in the gym. He is having a party, too, even if — in one of the most relatable moments of his career — he doesn’t want one.
“Yeah I’m gonna have one of those, but that’s not a wish. I don’t wish to have a party, because I’ve got to pay for it. Shit. I gotta pay for my own damn birthday party,” James said.
Still, James isn’t totally dreading his birthday, even if on the night before he wanted to make sure he wasn’t getting called another year older prematurely.
“I’m not 35 yet. If I was back home then I would be 35. I live in L.A. now, so don’t count me out just yet. The milestone of it is is that when you grow up in an inner city around a lot of things that you don’t want your kids to see, to be able to get to this point in age where the statistics are stacked up against you because of obvious reasons, that’s a blessing,” James said.
“It’s more of a blessing for me to be able to do what I love to do every day, and be able to let my family reap the benefits of that,” James continued. “They allow me to be an inspiration to them.”
It’s not only his family who James is inspiring, either. His teammates are also impressed with how James has managed to remain so productive for so long — even if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope jokingly downplayed the significance, deadpanning “he’s all right” when overhearing Davis get asked about what James has been doing at (nearly) 35.
“For a guy to be 34, almost 35 and do what he’s able to do in 17 years in the game, and be so efficient speaks volumes of what he does. He takes care of his body, he’s in the gym every day working on his craft, watching film,” Davis said. “It all shows and it all pays off.”
It might pay off in a title, which is coincidentally the same gift Alex Caruso is trying to give James.
“Yeah, I’m gonna try to give him a present at the end of the year with a championship, that’ll be the big one,” Caruso said.
It’s not immediately clear what the exchange policy on championships is, but it’s also safe to say James wouldn’t be looking to return one of them if he happened to get two over the next few years. After all, he won’t get many more chances at them at his age, no matter how much he tries to postpone that rising number. This very fun Lakers team may be his last, best chance. And hey, while it won’t get James out of paying for his own damn birthday party, at least he wouldn’t have to pay for the championship parade.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.