LeBron James jr, the last goal in the NBA could be to keep playing long enough to play with his oldest son. But is Bronny James a real NBA prospect, and what would it take for the Lakers to put father and son on the same team?
At this time of year, basketball fans’ Twitter feeds are filled with grainy videos of teenagers playing basketball, like young Sasquatches shooting hoops. And since Zion Williamson, one teen with a well-known name has been the subject of more grainy videos than anyone else: LeBron James Jr., whose nickname is Bronny:
Bronny, 17 years old, has been playing with Strive for Greatness, an AAU team whose name comes from his father’s charity work. Last week, he played at Nike’s Peach Jam event in Georgia. Tonight, he’ll play at the Las Vegas Big Time Finale, which includes a game on ESPN. (Not ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN+, or the Ocho.) He will go to Europe next week for a three-country tour against top players worldwide.
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As the son of the most talked-about player of the 21st century, Bronny has been in the spotlight ever since he learned to dribble. When Bronny was 10, his dad said college coaches were already trying to get him to play for them. This may have been an elaborate way to brag about how good Bronny was. When Bronny was 12, people liked to watch him dunk on 7-foot rims in their driveways. When he was a freshman in high school in 2019, The Washington Post called him “high school basketball’s biggest draw.” When he moved to a prestigious prep school in Los Angeles called Sierra Canyon, he joined an NBA son superteam with Kenyon Martin Jr., Scotty Pippen Jr., and Zaire Wade. Even though Martin, Pippen, Ziaire Williams, and Brandon Boston, all of whom went to Sierra Canyon High School, are now in the NBA, Bronny’s name made the news.
BRONNY JAMES. 😤
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 20, 2022
Maybe that was because the hype was based on the idea that LeBron James jr. and Bronny would play together in the NBA one day. It’s not just a theory; LeBron James has spread the idea himself. So far as I can tell, LeBron James jr. said for the first time in public in 2018 that he wanted to play with his son Bronny one day. At the time, Bronny was still in middle school. Since then, he has talked about it a lot. In February, he said that his plan is to play one season with Bronny and then retire.
Bronny went off in his last ever AAU game pic.twitter.com/lJeQ734sMS
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 28, 2022
The NBA is a league of sons even more than other professional sports. The league has always had second-generation players, like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Brent Barry, and Bol Bol. I counted that at least 29 of the 605 NBA players who played last season had fathers who played in the league. That’s almost 5 percent, which is a ridiculously high number and enough to fill two teams’ rosters. (We can even count JaVale McGee, whose mother Pamela played in the WNBA, to make the number of second-generation players equal 30.) The Warriors just won the NBA Finals. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Gary Payton II are all NBA kids who play for the Warriors. DJ Wagner and Cameron Boozer, the best players in the classes of 2023 and 2025, respectively, are the sons of two of LeBron’s former Cleveland teammates, Dajuan Wagner and Carlos Boozer. This trend is likely to continue. Milt, Dajuan’s dad, was also an NBA player, so the Wagners would be the first family to have three generations in the league. It turns out that future NBA players benefit a lot from being tall, having access to top-notch training and coaches, and, of course, having NBA money.
Bronny James just had one of his best games ever 💪 @NikeEYB
5 3PM pic.twitter.com/odU3ZAcATG
— Overtime (@overtime) July 18, 2022
But a father and son have never played together on the court. Doc and Austin Rivers were coached by their father, but Doc traded Austin away in the end. (He also coached Dell Curry’s son and Steph Curry’s brother, Seth Curry. My point is that there are a lot of family ties in the NBA. In MLB, fathers and sons play together. In 1990, Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. hit home runs right after each other. But it didn’t seem possible in basketball because baseball players can play for much longer than hoopers. For LeBron James jr. to play with his oldest child, he would have to play at least until he is 40 years old in 2024-25, which would be his 22nd season and tie Vince Carter for the all-time NBA record. When he said he’d play with his son, it sounded like another one of LeBron’s crazy promises that may or may not ever come true. (Let’s not forget that he didn’t win one, two, three, four, or even five of the seven titles he planned to win with the Heat.)
But maybe it’s not so crazy after all. Bronny is almost an adult and about to start his senior year of high school, while LeBron has hardly changed. It’s time to start wondering if LeBron’s dream of becoming a father is more likely.
Let’s look at the big questions to figure out how to answer them.
Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.