On Sunday night, LeBron James handed out his 9,000th assist in the Lakers’ win over the Mavericks, making him only the ninth player ever to do so and the only player in league history to have 9,000 assists and 9,000 rebounds. James has had 50 assists in his last four games for the Lakers.
Not bad for a guy who today hits an age at which NBA players usually find themselves being ushered out of the league. If the subjects of aging and passing the ball were particularly on his mind a bit lately, it was fitting that James turned his attention to 42-year-old Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whose team stumbled on Sunday but is still gearing up for another playoff push after finishing 12-4.
“I definitely pay attention to what Brady does, I mean, how can you not?” James said while seated at his locker after beating Dallas. “One of the greatest football players to ever walk the face of the Earth. He gets counted out every year, pretty much. They’re saying, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. He just tries to continue to put their franchise in a position to be successful.”
LeBron James Earns Honor Over Tom Brady
Just hours earlier, the Associated Press named James the Male Athlete of the Decade for the 2010s, with Brady the runner-up.
Brady has been in the NFL for 20 years, the last 19 as the New England starter. This will be the 17th time he has led the Patriots into the playoffs. The only two times he missed the postseason were 2002, when the Patriots lost out on a spot because of a tiebreaker, and 2008, when Brady injured his knee.
James has been in the NBA for 17 seasons and has made 13 playoff appearances—14, presumably, after this season. He missed the postseason his first two seasons (the second was when his Cavs went 42-40 and lost out on a tiebreaker) as well as last season, when he missed 27 games, mostly with a groin injury.
Tom Brady, LeBron James, ‘Friends for a Long Time’
Last month, after James said that he and Brady would play, “until we can’t walk no more,” Brady was asked about James.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Brady told reporters. “So I have always admired him, he is a great athlete and player. I think he loves the sport, he loves basketball, he loves competition. I feel the same way about football.”
James said that, over the past two decades, Brady has been willing to do the work to keep himself on the field while also doing his best to boost teammates rather than himself. Brady, in fact, jokingly tried to recruit James to play tight end of the Patriots in 2018, when he wrote on Instagram, “Damn bro, come play tight end you and gronk (sic) would be unstoppable!”
“The greatest thing about Tom is that it is never about him,” James said. “It’s never been about him. The success has come with him being selfless and just him doing his job. You can appreciate that, you can appreciate his longevity and just putting in the work.”
Combined, the two players are now 77 years old. But both are still putting in a good bit of work.