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LeBron establishes record on birthday

Broderick Turner
Los Angeles Times

His 36th birthday Wednesday was another opportunity for LeBron James to celebrate a wonderful NBA life.

He has been in the league for 18 years, entertaining the masses and reaching milestones along the way.

On this night, James picked up another one, getting 26 points to score at least 10 points in 1,000 consecutive games.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.

A happy birthday it indeed was for James and the Lakers, who defeated the San Antonio Spurs 121-107.

James was able to establish the mark before Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was ejected with 3:56 left in the second quarter.

His assistant, Becky Hammon, took over the head-coaching duties, making her own history as the first woman to coach an NBA regular-season game.

“The guys have great respect for her and I think she’s going to be a head coach in this league someday and I think most of our coaching community feels the same way,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

James said his plan was to head back to the team hotel and celebrate his birthday and accomplishments with his teammates by drinking some wine and tequila.

“I just go out and try to prepare and be the best every night when I step on the floor,” James said. “And if I’m in uniform, I’ve got to do things to help our team win. Scoring, rebounding, defending, assisting, doing the little things and just be available for my teammates throughout the course of the game when I’m on the floor and also on the bench, and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that in my career for the majority of it.”

The special moment arrived for James in the second quarter, when he scored his 11th point on a jump hook. He finished the game with eight assists and five rebounds in 35 minutes.

He left the game with 1:48 remaining and signed an autograph for a young fan wearing mask after the game was over.

Anthony Davis’ gift to James was 20 points and nine rebounds. When asked if he got James anything for his birthday, Davis said, “Nope.”

“We got him a win,” Davis said. “What do you get LeBron James, huh? Some wine, maybe. I might get him some wine, maybe.”

James’ streak began on Jan. 6, 2007, when James was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. James surpassed Michael Jordan’s mark of 866 straight games of 10-plus points.

James was asked how he can wrap his head around all his accomplishments, this new one included. He shook his head before answering.

“Um, I can’t,” James said. “I would be lying if I could sit here and tell you that I can wrap my head around it. It doesn’t make sense. But I just try to take full advantage of the opportunities that I’ve been given.”

Dennis Schroder congratulated James after the game.

“At the end of the day, what he brings to the table every night, every day, is just amazing to see,” Schroder said.