Popular Tee – Unisex 100% preshrunk cotton Seamless rib at neck Taped shoulder-to-shoulder Double-needle stitching throughout Tear-away label Classic fit-Unisex Soon enough, LeBron James could leave the mostly empty arena and finally celebrate his 36th birthday. James helped the Los Angeles Lakers to a 121-107 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. But a bigger gift awaited James back at the team hotel. “I have some wine waiting on me,” said James after posting a team-high 26 points. “Probably some teammates will stop by. There is a meal room we have our meetings at. We might stop down there and watch some TV and drink some good wine. Maybe have some tequila.” Thankfully for James, he does not have to worry about the social distancing restrictions as much in San Antonio as he does in Los Angeles. Back in LA, no private gatherings are allowed in any way due to the coronavirus pandemic. But thanks to the NBA’s rigorous testing protocols, James knew he could celebrate safely with his teammates within a private hotel. At that point, it seems inevitable James will reflect on a year that allowed him to showcase his on-court greatness and his off-court leadership through a time of turmoil. “The year 2020 was one hell of a year. The good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between,” James said. “It’s something that us as Americans and people all over the world haven’t seen before ever.” LeBron James shoots around Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan. OPINION:Is this LeBron's last best chance to win regular-season MVP? MORE:NBA opening week TV ratings way up from last year SPORTS NEWSLETTER:Sign up now to get top sports headlines delivered daily James then mentioned a few topics. He brought up the coronavirus that has killed more than 340,000 people and left millions unemployed. James conveyed empathy for the lost family members and the shuttered businesses. He brought up the nation’s systemic racism that highlighted police killing or shooting unarmed Black people. He mentioned the country’s initiatives toward racial equality (“Black Lives Matter”). He plugged his own initiative to improve voter turnout, especially in the Black community (“More Than a Vote.”) Amid all of that, James led the Lakers in numerous ways. He helped galvanize the franchise following the Kobe Bryant tragedy. He helped the Lakers stay disciplined when the NBA suspended the season at the beginning of the pandemic and when the NBA resumed the season in a quarantined campus. He capped that unique season restart with his fourth NBA championship and fourth Finals MVP. Get the Sports newsletter in your inbox. Sports news, no matter the season. Stop by for the scores, stay for the stories. Delivery: Daily Your Email “So many storylines that you can sit down at a fireplace and have your grandkids sit on your lap,” James said. “Whatever issue they want to talk about for quite a while. I’m looking forward to that moment.” James might have become reflective since 2021 finally awaits on Friday. But as this past year showed, the Lakers’ star hardly seems ready about living in the past. Instead, he demonstrated why he can still add to his legacy. After missing 27 games in the 2018-19 season because of a strained left groin, James avoided a major injury, led the league in assists and led the Lakers to their 17th NBA title and first in 10 years. Even if James planned to celebrate his 36th birthday with some alcoholic beverages, he otherwise has stayed disciplined with his dietary habits. The Lakers marvel up close and the NBA community admires from afar how James also masters his training regimen. “It’s a tribute both to his intelligence level and his tenacity, his character and his commitment to excellence. When you combine those things, you get what we see in LeBron James after all of these years,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He looks pretty much like when he first came into the league. He deserves a lot of credit for being the consummate professional, using every technique that he can and being on the cutting edge of things. His mental state along with his physical state really makes him very special, probably more than anybody that has played the game.” That is saying a lot considering that James is in the middle of his 18th NBA season and has spent nearly half of his life in the NBA. James contended “it doesn’t make sense” considering he grew up in a single-family home in Akron, Ohio and experienced various forms of racism and poverty. That does not mean James has remained content with his basketball resume. Heck, James just became the first player in NBA history to score at least 10 points in 1,000 consecutive games. “I have to do things to help our team win,” James said. “If that’s scoring, rebounding, defending, assisting, doing little things and be available for my teammates throughout the course of the game when I’m on the floor and also when I’m on the bench, I’ve been fortunate enough to do that in my career for the majority of it. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaching staffs throughout the course of my career that allows me to be who I am and to use my influence for the betterment of the team as well.” So now that he is 36 years old, James weighed the issue on to what extent his game will evolve or stay the same. “That’s a good question,” James said. “I never try to put a cap or a ceiling on trying to evolve my game.” Lakers coach Frank Vogel observed that “the evolution at this stage of his career has really taken place more than anything that is going to happen this year.” That is because James ensured that Anthony Davis has become the offensive focal point. That is because James has taken a more deliberate approach with his diet and recovery habits than he did early in his career. Still, James noted that he likely won’t have as many ball handling duties because of the Lakers’ off-season additions that included Dennis Schröder, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Matthews. James plans to rely on what he called his “wide receiver skills” by creating scoring opportunities through off-ball movement than playmaking. Regardless, James has both excelled and maintained longevity because of his blend of scoring and playmaking. He has tweaked those skills depending on the personnel around him. “There’s no ceiling for my game,” James said. “I feel just as good as I did at 35, as I did at 32 and as I did at 29. I want to keep on pushing the envelope and see how far I can take this thing.” Unlike in past birthdays, there were no rookies to sing "Happy Birthday" to James before or after the game. Davis contended he did not give James a birthday gift other than a win. “What do you give LeBron James? Some wine,” Davis said. “I might get him some wine.” It sounded like James was well-stocked with those beverages, though, to celebrate a day he cherished. “Hopefully I’ve made my hometown proud, my mother proud, my family, my wife and my kids and my boys back home and my friends,” James said. “Everyone I’ve been associated or around, I continue to evolve and inspire them and empower the, to be great as well. I’ve bene very blessed. I don’t ever try to take it for granted.” Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.