LeBron James has said that he wants to stick around the NBA long enough to play with his oldest son — or perhaps simply own an NBA team and sign his kid to play for it — and the youngster is doing his best to hold up his end of the bargain. LeBron James Jr. hasn’t even played eighth-grade basketball yet, but he’s already a phenom with highlight videos and overflow — and occasionally out-of-control — crowds to his games.
Of course, the basketball ability of James Jr., nicknamed “Bronny,” isn’t the only thing driving all the interest in him, and his superstar father recently addressed the pressure his son might be feeling to live up to his name. In a recent video, James said that he regretted giving his name to his son, but he explained that it stemmed from his own experience of growing up without a father.
James made his comments in a clip released Thursday from “The Shop,” a show he is producing for HBO that features “spirited, free-flowing discussions,” in a barbershop setting. In the clip, former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart asks James, “What do you say to your kids, though, living up to you being their dad, and they’re playing the same sport that you’ve played better than anyone else in the world has ever played it. How do you give them a peace of mind that they don’t have to be you?”
“I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name because of that,” James replies, while holding court in a room with, among others, Snoop Dogg, Draymond Green, Candace Parker, Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Bennett.
“When I was younger, I didn’t have a dad,” he continues. “So my whole thing was like, ‘Whenever I have a kid, not only is he going to be a Jr., I’m going to do everything that this man didn’t do.’
“They’re going to experience things that I didn’t experience — the only thing that I can do is give them the blueprint, and it’s up to them to take their own course, whenever that time comes. ”
This week, the course of James Jr.’s nascent basketball career took his family to Nevada, where his father’s presence, coupled with the small size of the host gym, created such a scene that the game between his North Coast Blue Chips and the Nike Meanstreets was canceled Wednesday night. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the ruckus arose when a fan in a Michael Jordan jersey heckled the elder LeBron James when he arrived with his wife, Savannah, and daughter, Zhuri, for the game at Liberty High School just outside Las Vegas. The fan in the Jordan jersey was denied entry to the gym and, after screaming at security, was restrained.
The James family, along with the Blue Chips players, left.
It’s a surreal scene all around the Vegas area, where kids’ tournaments that are going on have drawn Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, among others, but Bronny and his family raised the buzz at the Big Foot Hoops Las Vegas Classic to another level. “He’s the hottest thing in youth basketball right now,” an unnamed official told Yahoo’s Pete Thamel.
So, how good is he? According to Thamel: “There’s an inherent discomfort with grading a player who is entering the eighth grade. Some recruiting analysts, by rule, refuse to do so. But there’s also an undeniable buzz, as his mix tapes have more than a half-million views, he led his team to a USBA National Championship in Charlotte last week and he also took an unofficial visit to Duke. Playing on a national grass roots circuit lends to inevitable attention.”
At the moment, Bronny is just a kid, and his father has spoken about hoping to allow him to find a sport or a calling he loves. “My son is going to be a kid as long as he can be,” James said in 2015 (via ESPN). “That’s all he needs to worry about. He loves to play the game of basketball, he loves to play video games, he loves to do his homework. That’s all that matters. Everything else doesn’t matter. He loves his brother, his sister, his dad, his mom, his grandmom. Let him be a kid.”
Still, his father can’t help but make comparisons. A year ago, James proudly pointed out that his son shoots much better than he did when he was 12, but it was Bronny’s passes that made pops proud.
“It’s probably the best part of his game and I grew up playing basketball, playing AAU ball and watched a lot of kids kind of hog the ball,” James told reporters (via Cleveland.com) in 2017. “Not pass the ball and things of that nature, and I was never one of those kids. I always liked seeing my teammates excited about getting the ball and making a shot, so to see him doing the same thing, it’s a pretty unique trait for a kid his age.”
Just think, if James Jr. continues to follows in his father’s footsteps, he’ll be in the NBA in no time. No pressure, though.
H/T Overtime for the video
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