Given the way LeBron James is currently playing in his 19th season, it’s hard to see his reign ever coming to an end. With his US size 15 shoes, he’d be leaving enormous shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively. The NBA great has given his own answer on how he’d like to bookend his stellar career, as Father Time will eventually come knocking: by sharing the court with LeBron “Bronny” James Jr.
LeBron has already played against other father/son pairings on the court before. Kenyon Martin Jr/Sr and Gary Trent Jr/Sr have all come up against King James over the course of James’ 19 years. But seeing a father and son duo in the NBA at the same time? Now even LeBron’s biggest critics would have to admit that would be pretty special.
LeBron James’ contract with the Lakers is set to conclude at the end of the 2022-2023 season, the same year Prince James is said to finish high school. Considering the NBA’s current rule surrounding draft eligibility (one year removed from high school), I would guess that he’ll sign a 1-year deal presumably with the Lakers, then move to whichever team drafts his son. If there was any doubt that the boy was gonna get drafted, a little packaged deal like this sure won’t hurt his chances.
As far as Bronny James himself is concerned, he’s the closest thing to basketball royalty there is. His godfather is the Point God Chris Paul, the number on his chest is from Russell Westbrook, and his dad is, well… c’mon now. But the fact must be acknowledged that being named LeBron James Jr would come with an unbelievable amount of expectation.
The elder James was only 18 years old when he had Bronny and, as a man who had grown up not knowing his own father, giving his son his name was an incredibly symbolic gesture. A further commitment to fatherhood, if you will. LeBron himself has since admitted he regrets putting this amount of pressure on his eldest son by passing on his name.
Being a 17-year-old playing under unreasonable expectations and completely unfair player comparisons is a territory known all too well by Sr. As the adage goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown. That being said, a scenario like this one is always going to be an interesting one. Tiger Wood’s kid playing golf, David Beckham’s kid playing soccer. Namesake is a part of it, as is genetics, but we also want to know how good you can be at a sport when one of its greatest minds is teaching you everything they know in your own backyard.
During his freshman year, Bronny James was named the most valuable player in a victory over his father’s old school, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School on December 14th. The game took place in the “LeBron James Arena“, was televised across the country, as Bronny was playing alongside Zaire Wade, son of Dwayne Wade. It doesn’t get much better than that.
While LeBron James famously went straight from high school into the NBA, as previously mentioned, the rules around eligibility have been revised. This will mean that the legendary father and son link-up will be delayed another year as Bronny attends either college or plays in the G-League.
According to his recruiting profile on 247Sports.com, his schools of interest are currently listed as Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and UCLA – some of the best college basketball programs the USA has to offer. Kentucky is the only school that has made a scholarship offer so far.
At one point, he was actually the #1 ranked prospect in his class. After sustaining some injuries and having a smaller role on his high school team due to his age, this is where he currently sits:
- Rivals: 34
- 247Sports: 34
- ESPN: 43
Although I wouldn’t count him out just yet. The James household has a reputation for coming back from large deficits. His 14-year-old younger brother Bryce Maximus James is also one to watch out for on the court, but he still has a couple of years before he is due for the Boss Hunting treatment. Until then, all eyes are on Bronny James. Is he on track to fulfil the prophecy?
LeBron James vs LeBron James Jr: Freshman Year Comparison
I just want to preface this by acknowledging how ridiculous the comparison really is. For starters, we’re comparing a pair of 15-year-olds here. During his sophomore season, Bronny James tore his meniscus (which required surgery to repair), and his junior year season is currently underway. So that only leaves his first year – where he was the youngest player on the best high school team in the country – and putting him against LeBron freakin’ James.
Points Per Game: 21
Rebounds Per Game: 6
Games Played: 27
LeBron “Bronny” James Jr.
Points Per Game: 6.3
Rebounds Per Game: 0.3
Games Played: 35
Again, it isn’t really a fair comparison at all. Bronny James was coming off the bench at Sierra Canyon School, a private school in Chatsworth, Los Angeles, with some of the biggest high school prospects in the country obviously getting more playing time. With respect to St Vincent-St Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, it isn’t even in that same conversation. LeBron James got to be the star of the show the second he became one of their “Fighting Irish”.
Truth be told, there are actually a couple of things Bronny James can do better than his old man could at his age. While his dad leaned more on his athleticism at that age to make it out of a pretty tough situation, Bronny James has been able to perfect his shooting and playmaking with some pretty elite-level coaching. And with an abundance of time left to both physically and mentally grow, there’s no telling what this kid’s ceiling is.
But don’t take my word for it. Hell, don’t even take ‘Bron’s word for it. LeBron James actually enlisted three-time NBA All-Star and personal friend Gilbert Arenas to do a scouting report of Bronny as he began to grow. Arenas returned to James with the words he would’ve loved to hear:
“Just from looking at him, you were probably taller, you’ve got the same speed, he probably jumps higher, passes probably the same, IQ probably the same, he shoots better and dribbles better…”
“From his bone structure, he’s going to be all of 6-8, 6-9, and the fact that he’s jumping higher now means he’s going to be 6-8, 6-9 with a 44-inch vertical… When he takes it seriously, it’s going to be scary,” Arenas concluded.