LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James on Friday said he is a long way from hanging up his high tops and likened himself to veteran New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is still going strong at age 42.
Asked by reporters whether retirement had crossed his mind, the 34-year-old James shook his head.
“I’m not at the end of my story,” James said prior to a game between his first place Lakers and the visiting Sacramento Kings at Staples Center.
“So no, not the way I feel right now.
“Me and Tom Brady are one and the same. We’re going to keep playing until we can’t walk no more,” he said with a smile.
“As long as I still feel great and as long as I can still play at a high level ... I will play this game until I physically can’t or ... mentally I’m a little checked out,” he said.
“Then you could start looking at that. I have no idea when that happens but I’m not there.”
After missing time with injuries in a disappointing first season with Los Angeles, it appeared the league’s grueling schedule might finally be catching up to the three-time NBA champion, who reached the finals in eight consecutive seasons.
But James has been his dominant self in the early going of this campaign, leading a retooled Lakers roster to a 9-2 record to sit atop the loaded Western Conference.
James, who joined the NBA out of high school as the first overall draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, made his comments the day after it was reported that 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony would be making his return to the league.
The sharpshooting 35-year-old Anthony, who was also drafted in 2003, hasn’t played in more than a year, and many thought his playing days may be done. But he is now expected to join the Portland Trail Blazers on a one-year contract.
Anthony isn’t expected to make his Blazers debut until at least Tuesday in New Orleans, meaning he will miss a chance to face his most recent former team, the Houston Rockets, on Monday, ESPN reported.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Cynthia Osterman