Sports world has history of athletes leaving signature teams

Mia Zanzucchi
Peter King on NBC Sports

The news that Tom Brady is saying goodbye to the New England Patriots and will play for a new team next season was felt across the sports world. Brady’s legendary 20-year era in New England included six Super Bowl rings, a handful of MVP awards, dozens of NFL records and more.

If you’re having a hard time imagining Brady in anything other than blue, red and silver, don’t worry. NBC Sports took a look at other legends who closed out their storied careers in unfamiliar colors.

Michael Jordan’s three-year stint with the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s was an interesting end to arguably the greatest career in NBA history. Even though he was in his late 30s when he joined Washington, he still averaged more than 20 points a game. Around the same time, Knicks star Patrick Ewing was bouncing around the NBA after 15 seasons in New York, first to the Seattle Supersonics in a four-team deal, and then to the Orlando Magic as a free agent.

The NHL is no stranger to seeing icons leaving their signature teams in the twilight of their careers. Two heartbreakers for the Boston Bruins had two very different outcomes. In 2000, Ray Bourque was traded to the Avs during his 21st season with the Bruins. The next season, he finally met Lord Stanley—then brought the Cup back to Boston to celebrate. Bobby Orr was a different story. After 10 years, two Stanley Cup wins and bad knee problems, Orr moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he only made 26 appearances in two seasons.

America’s pastime has seen its fair share of high profile uniform changes, but none can stack up to the revered Babe Ruth, known to this day by sports fans and the sports-averse a like. Perhaps the biggest celebrity of his day as the Yankees’ biggest star during a 14-year career in New York, Ruth had his eye on a managerial position. But the world wasn’t ready to see him off the field just yet. After some deception and generally dodgy moves from the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth decided to fully retire after a handful of uncharacteristically bad games with them.

Across the pond in the Premier League, Ian Wright, who had been Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer at the time, finished his storied career floating around different soccer clubs between 1998 and 2000. He never found the same success during his time at Burnley, Celtic, Nottingham Forest or West Ham. The following year, a still-playing Pep Guardiola would end a 13-year stretch with Barcelona in favor of Brescia (twice) and Roma in Italy. He wrapped up his playing career in Qatar and Mexico before returning to Barcelona to manage.

Sports world has history of athletes leaving signature teams originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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