Lakers’ LeBron James on Buccaneers QB Tom Brady winning seventh Super Bowl: ‘He’s one of the GOATs’

There aren’t many active athletes that predate LeBron James, but Tom Brady is among the few. The legendary quarterback won his first Super Bowl 15 days before James first graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the “Chosen One” headline that put him on the national map, and on Sunday, Brady picked up a seventh title as an amazed James — himself fighting for a fifth ring, his second with the Los Angeles Lakers — watched from home. 

Even LeBron, the NBA‘s answer to Brady in longevity and accomplishment, was stunned by what the 43-year-old quarterback was able to achieve. When asked about Brady’s Super Bowl LV win, James bestowed upon him an honorific he himself has spent his career fighting for: GOAT. 

“How do I wrap my head around it? He’s one of the GOATs,” James told reporters after Monday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I’ve been watching him my whole life, seemed like my whole life. I’ve been watching him for 20 years now or however he’s been in the NFL. I watched him when he was with Michigan playing against the Ohio State Buckeyes. I’ve been watching for quite a while now. To see him go out and do the things that he’s done in his career and for him to win another one yesterday in the fashion that he won, it was pretty cool. It’s very inspiring for a guy like myself.”

Both James and Brady have reached the championship round in their respective sports 10 times. Brady has the edge with seven championships, but LeBron’s streak of eight consecutive Finals appearances may never get matched in any professional sport. While Brady has lasted well into his 40s, James has not yet set a specific point for a planned retirement. Brady has said that he wants to play until he turns 45, but LeBron’s future will be more circumstantial. 

“I don’t know how long I’m going to play the game. I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to give to the game. But the way I feel right now, we’ll see what happens. I have no timetable on it. I have no year, ‘do I want to play until 30 this or 40 that,’ the game will let me know when it’s time, and we’ll figure it out then.”

LeBron is under contract with the Lakers through the 2022-23 season, after which his son Bronny James is expected to enter the NBA Draft. James has spoken of his desire to play with his son in the past, but there is no guarantee that he reaches that point or retires immediately afterward. The safe money would be on James outlasting Brady, but, well, few have successfully managed to bet against Brady’s longevity. Whether the two of them go down as the greatest players in the history of their respective sports remains to be seen, but to this point, none of their peers have managed to match either’s longevity. Combined, they are almost 80 years old, yet despite their relatively geriatric statuses within their sports, the strongest commonality between them is this: they are both defending champions, and at this rate, who knows when either is going to get knocked off again. 

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