One of the side stories of life in the NBA’s bubble as the league has returned to action in Orlando has been how players can fill time while shacked up in the same hotel for weeks—and, for some teams, months. There’s pingpong, pickleball, and fishing, but the tried-and-true time-killer for NBA players remains video games.
For the Lakers, that means a teamwide tournament using the Madden NFL 20 game from EA Sports. And for LeBron James, that means counting on the one active player in the NFL—or in any current sport, really—whose legacy matches his own: Tom Brady, now with the Buccaneers.
And he is apparently doing quite well with Brady. James is 5-1, trailing only Quinn Cook, who is 6-0. Anthony Davis, for what it’s worth, is 3-4, playing as the Ravens. Rookie Talen Horton-Tucker has been the Vikings and has led them to a sad 0-6 mark.
🏈 🎮 Lakers Madden Tournament. With 3 weeks left who do you got?
— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) August 7, 2020
When EA’s Madden Twitter account got hold of the leaderboard, it made note of King James playing with the GOAT, Brady.
— Madden NFL 21 (@EAMaddenNFL) August 7, 2020
Brady, James Have Dominated for Last Two Decades
Brady and James came from very different sports backgrounds, James having been anointed as a future great by the time he was a high school sophomore and Brady climbing from a little-noticed sixth-round draft pick after a lackluster career at Michigan.
Brady achieved stardom in 2001 when he took over for the injured Drew Bledsoe and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl championship. Two years later, James entered the NBA and has been a focal point of the league ever since. For the last two decades, Brady and James have come to define their sports.
Now at the tail ends of their career, Brady and James are also in the process of trying to fight off age to finish up in spectacular fashion with new teams. James is in his first season with the Lakers and Brady is in his first with Tampa Bay.
James: ‘Me & Tom Brady Are One & the Same’
Early in this season, James gave an indication of how long he plans to play by comparing himself to Brady. James is 35 years old, but still in peak form—he is one of three finalists for the NBA’s MVP award and has led the Lakers to the top spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Brady turned 43 on August 3.
In November, James was asked about finishing his career strong. “I have no idea,” he said, “I’m not at the end of my story. So I have no idea.”
He was asked whether he thinks about how long he would want to play. “Not really, not the way I feel right now,” James said. “Me and Tom Brady are one and the same. We’re going to play until we can’t walk no more. I don’t know man, as long as I feel great, as long as I am playing the game at a high level and mentally I am sharp and still there, giving everything to the game, nothing to distract me from what the main objective is, I will probably play this game. When I physically can’t play or mentally, I am a little checked out, or not approaching the game the way I have always done … you can start looking at it that way.”
Just like Tom Brady, LeBron has no plans on hanging ‘em up any time soon. 💪
— theScore (@theScore) November 15, 2019
Brady acknowledged James at the time.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Brady said. “I’ve always admired him. He’s a great athlete, player. I think he loves the sport, he loves basketball, he loves the competition. I feel the same way about football.”