With LeBron James playing the Hawks at 7PM EST and celebrating his 25th birthday today, I’m sure we’ll see some nasty highlights on tomorrow’s SportsCenter. I thought it would be interesting to look into how some of the top NBA stars have done playing the day they were born.
Due to scheduling, and I’m sure some players take the day off, game days and birthdays don’t always match up. Also, there are a lot of players that never have this opportunity with their birthday falling in the off-season. Some notables that don’t get the joy are Allen Iverson, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, Manu Ginobilli, Pete Maravich, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady and Wilt Chamberlain. A few of the all-time greats like Bill Russell, Karem Abdul-Jabar and Oscar Robertson do have birthdays during the season but the individual game statistics weren’t available throughout their careers.
There are many ways to look at the numbers. Shaquelle O’Neal has played the most on his birthday, March 6th, with a total of 8. Shaq-a-laq also has the single highest points and rebounds in a birthday game with 61 points in 2000 against the Clippers and 23 total rebounds all while turning 28 and helping his team win by 20 points. Shaq-tus also has the best average field goal %, but you know…when you’re shooting 0-2 feet from the hoop…it’s kind of hard to miss. Overall he has 4 wins and 3 losses on his b-day.
Michael Jordan, February 17th, has the highest average points per game with 33. He played a total of three times on his birthday. On his 29th birthday against the Cavaliers he scored 46 points with 6 assists helping the Bulls defeat them by just a point.
How has the King fared thus far? He’s already played three times on his birthday averaging 31 points, 5 assists and 7 rebounds a game. Unfortunately he has yet to win one of those games. He tends not to play much defense on his birthday though, he only has 1 steal in all three games combined. He did go 3 for 4 in 3-pointers on his 22nd birthday. He’ll have to score 41 points later today to edge out Jordan for the top spot of average points per game.
Dennis Rodman had a strange game on his 26th birthday, he hit 2 for 3 from the 3-point line, scoring a total of 12 points against the Hawks. He also had 9 boards and 5 fouls that night. Too bad they lost that game.
John Stockton had a good game on the first birthday he played in the NBA (he played a total of 7 b-day games) on his 26th against the Bucks but it wasn’t enough for a win. He shot 2 for 3 from 3-point range, 83% at the free-throw line scoring a total of 19 and handing out 18 assists.
I went looking for a someone who fouled out on their birthday…starting with Dennis Rodman of course but surprisingly he has not. He has however played 3 times on his birthday, May 13th, with an average of 16 total rebounds and a high of 21 in 1998. Kevin Garnett also matched that mark on his May 17th, 2004 outing.
I finally found my fouling offender in Shawn Kemp. On November 26th, 1994, his 26th birthday, against the Rockets he fouled out with an impressive 22 point, 12 rebound and 3 steal performance (all in 33 minutes), imagine if he stayed in that game. And yes the Sonics won that one.
That got me thinking…now I wanted to find someone who had managed a triple double on his birthday and that took a bit of searching. Who else but the great Jason Kidd pulled this feat off. On March 23rd, 2001, his 28th birthday, against the 76ers he played 36 minutes with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds helping the Suns win by 13 points.
While Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Larry Bird have only played once on their birthday, Shawn Kemp, Tim Duncan and John Stockton have all played 7 times. Kemp and Duncan also have the most wins of all the birthday boys with a total of 5 each. Below you’ll find their overall average statistics for their birthday performances.