By Matt McCue

It's the best kind of present sports fans could ever ask for this year -- the season openers for the 2011-12 NBA season on Dec. 25. Many eyes will be on LeBron James and his Heat teammates this year, already championship favorites according to the New York Daily News. But it's not just about the game this year. December 30 is a mere five days after that season opener, and you know what that means -- James' 27th birthday.

Remember his over-the-top celebration last year? His actual birthday party, a "Full Court Birthday Celebration," was just one of 11 stops on the LeBron James Dinner Party Tour. Members of his inner circle sent out a 12-page PowerPoint presentation to garner interest from companies looking to sponsor the event at a swanky Miami club for $10,000 -- or $500,000 for all 11, according to CNN -- and, according to James' people, be involved with the athletes, musicians, actors, and politicians, who "reinvent and set the tone for a chic lifestyle." You have to wonder how on Earth he is going to top things this year. (And there sure will be celebrating -- birthdays and the return of the NBA season.)

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Slideshow: Lavish Athlete Birthday Bashes

The presentation, which all but said "King" James is God, probably wasn't the best way to win back fans that soured on him after his "The Decision" debacle. But it showed how many professional athletes work every inch of their marketing platform, from the shoes they wear on the court to the birthday parties they throw off of it.

Take, for example, Dennis Rodman's 50th birthday party in Las Vegas that also served as the launch for his new cigar line. And Reebok gave Washington Wizards guard John Wall 21 pairs of signature shoes created exclusively for his 21st birthday.

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While the pros have the money, sometimes they lack any event planning sense. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade blew out candles on a cake covered in frosting and ... Swarovski crystals for his 28th birthday bash. Crystals?! Former Washington Wizard guard Caron Butler scheduled his birthday party to start while his team was playing the Cleveland Cavaliers down the street. Then there is the downright scary (though not surprising.) At Michael Vick's 30th birthday party, his buddy got shot over a heated argument. The topic of discussion? Birthday cake.

Whether you're looking for the good, the bad, or the ugly, here are 10 professional athlete soirées that take the cake.

Lavish Athlete Birthday Bashes Slideshow


Gilbert Arenas' 25th Birthday Party

The talented and troubled NBA star spent as much on his 25th birthday party at Love nightclub in Las Vegas as he did on his Orlando homes shark grotto: between $1 and $2 million, says The Washington Post. The party boasted Diddy as a guest, but the grotto has a couch in it so Arenas can chill in the water. You decide which is the better investment.


Dwyane Wade's 28th Birthday Party

This past January, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade hosted his 28th birthday at LIV in Miami’s Fontainebleau. Since 28 is clearly a milestone year, he had his $4,000-cake decorated with Swarovski crystals, according to Fortunately, no one choked on the sparkly pieces. -- 25 Best Party Foods


Mike Tyson's $410,000 Party

Boxer Mike Tyson earned hundreds of millions during his career, yet he squandered his money on such purchases as pet tigers and a $2 million-bathtub for his first wife. After spending upwards of $400,000 per month on his lifestyle, he filed for bankruptcy in 2003. Among the expenses listed in his filing was a $410,000-birthday party, though the details of the event were sadly left out.


Eli Manning's 28th Birthday Party

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning took a bunch of his teammates and his wife, Abby, to the club Tenjune in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District for his 28th birthday. According to the NY Post, it was there that they ordered a few rounds of tequila shots and Abby gave him his present, a lap dance to "Single Ladies." Despite the pair trying to hide, everyone on the dance floor could see Manning go slack-jawed. -- 13 Office Holiday Party Fouls


John Wall's 21st Birthday Party

Since Washington Wizard guard John Wall left for the NBA after his freshman year at Kentucky, he celebrated his 21st birthday as a millionaire. Proving that the rich just get richer, his sponsor, Reebok, made him 21 "Grown A** Man" pairs of his signature shoe, according to Dime. Loyal fans could later buy them for $210.

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Click here for's complete slideshow of athletes' lavish birthday bashes.

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