FOXBOROUGH — Lakers superstar LeBron James is taking a page out of Tom Brady’s book when it comes to handling talk about looming retirement.
James, in the midst of his 17th NBA season, said he’s not thinking about the length of his career, nor is he thinking about circumstances in which he would decide to call it quits. At 34, he is the 11th-oldest active player in the league, but age is just a number to the three-time champ.
“I’m not at the end of my story,’’ James told reporters Friday in Los Angeles. “Not the way I feel right now. Me and Tom Brady are one and the same. We’re going to play until we can’t walk no more.’’
Asked about the comparison, Brady had nothing but praise for James, whom he called a friend.
“I’ve always admired him,’’ Brady said. “He’s a great athlete, player. I think he loves the sport. He loves basketball [and] he loves the competition. I feel the same way about football.’’
Brady, at 42 and in the midst of his 20th NFL season, has long said he plans to play until he’s 45 years old, although his TB12 body guru Alex Guerrero shared last week that Brady has floated the idea of playing until he’s 46 or 47. Brady has stayed non-committal about that possibility, only saying he will “keep going as long as [he] can.’’
James and Brady have expressed similar mind-sets when it comes to navigating the final years of their careers: If their bodies and minds allow for peak performance, then they both want to keep suiting up until that’s not the case.
“As long as I feel great and as long as I can still play at a high level and mentally I’m sharp and I’m there and I’m giving everything to the game and nothing can distract me from what the main objective is, then I’ll play this game,’’ James said. “When I physically can’t play or mentally I’m a little checked out or I’m not approaching the game like I’ve always done my whole career since I’ve picked up a basketball, then we can start looking at that.’’
The approach essentially mirrors Brady’s.
Regardless of what the future holds for either Brady or James, don’t expect Patriots coach Bill Belichick to weigh in on the matter.
“I don’t know,’’ Belichick said Friday, when asked about Brady extending his career well into his 40s. “Right now, I’m really just trying to focus on getting our team ready to go against the Eagles and trying to get myself ready to do a good job down there. So, we’ll leave all of that for another day.’’
Brown hard to pin down
Patriots safety Devin McCourty doesn’t think Antonio Brown’s NFL career is over.
“I think because of his talent, I think he’ll play again,’’ McCourty said on a recent episode of his “Double Coverage’’ podcast with his co-host and twin brother, Jason.
Brown played just one game for the Patriots this season, recording four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. After getting released less than a week later amid multiple sexual assault allegations, Brown has frequently taken to social media to express his frustration with the decision. He most recently vowed he’s done with the NFL before quickly changing course and saying he’s determined to make a return.
“We are tired of seeing these rants,’’ Devin McCourty said. “We don’t want to see them anymore.’’
League officials met with Brown last week, as part of its investigation into the allegations.
Chung, Harris sidelined
Safety Patrick Chung and rookie running back Damien Harris were downgraded to out for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced Saturday. Chung (heel/chest) had been limited in practice all week, while Harris (hamstring) was limited Friday . . . Safety Obi Melifonwu has been placed on the practice squad injured reserve list, after missing every practice this week. The Patriots now have seven active practice squad players.