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LeBron James compares Tom Brady’s return to New England to his return to Cleveland in 2010

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For the past two decades, the names Tom Brady and LeBron James have been front and center in the national sports consciousness as the two have served as the two biggest stars of the NFL and NBA. Even as the two have grown longer in the tooth as athletes, that has nonetheless remained the case: As it will be on Sunday night, when Brady plays the New England Patriots — his team from 2000 all the way until 2019 — as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Going back to face your original team after parting ways with them is an experience James knows well: After “The Decision” in 2010, James returned to Cleveland, Ohio to play the Cleveland Cavaliers — his hometown team and the one that drafted him and made him a star — as a member of the Miami Heat in a December game.

While appearing as a guest on Peyton and Eli Manning’s telecast of Monday Night Football, LeBron James recounted his own experience of returning to your longtime team as a member of an opposing team, relating it to what Brady is now set to experience.

“It was rough. I got no sleep the night before. I already knew the adversity and how crazy it was going to be,” James said, per Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston. “… I know Tom’s done so many great things down there in Foxboro, down there with the Patriots. But they’re gonna root for who they root for, and you know they root for the Pats. It can get real ugly. 

“You gotta go in there and quiet the crowd like I was able to do that night of Dec. 2, 2010.”

Brady’s experience in New England might be quite different to James’ in Cleveland, as Brady reached a sort of pro football pinnacle in New England by virtue of being the most prolific player in the history of the Patriots as a franchise and winning six Super Bowls — Only leaving in 2019 at the age of 42. Meanwhile, James left the Cavaliers at the peak of his early career, and he was vilified for abandoning his hometown to form a super team with the Heat. James was booed mercilessly upon his return game, with chants of “Akron hates you!” breaking out.

Despite the vitriol directed towards James, the Heat claimed an 118-90 victory over the Cavaliers that saw James finish with 38 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Brady will surely hope to replicate such a result as the Buccaneers try to rebound from a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

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