History! Lebron James becomes first NBA player to play on same team with his son

Piece by: BBC NEWS
Entertainment

• The 19-year-old was the 55th choice of the draft in New York on Thursday after weeks of speculation about which team he would end up on.

History! Lebron James becomes first NBA player to play on same team with his son
Image: COURTESY

Bronny James was picked in the second round of the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers where he could play alongside his legendary father LeBron.

The 19-year-old was the 55th choice of the draft in New York on Thursday after weeks of speculation about which team he would end up on.

Four-time NBA champion LeBron, 39, is probably entering the final year of his career and could become a free agent this summer by declining his $51.4m (£40.6m) player option when the window opens at the end of June.

However, that prospect seems remote given the the four-time NBA champion said after the All-Star game in 2022 that his "last year will be played with my son".

No father-son pairing has ever played together in the NBA before.

"In the history of the NBA, there's never been a father and a son that have shared an NBA basketball court and that feels like something that could be magical," said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

"We know, and have to respect of course, that LeBron has a decision on his opt-out… but if it worked out that he was on our team next season, NBA history could be made. And NBA history should be made in a Lakers uniform."

On Instagram, Bronny wrote "Beyond Blessed", while his father posted a series of pictures of the pair and the caption "Legacy".

Bronny has completed his first year of college basketball with the University of Southern California Trojans, where he averaged 4.8 points and 2.1 assists per game.

Unlike his father, who stands at 6ft 9in and is the NBA's leading all-time scorer, teenager Bronny is 6ft 1in and is more of a defensive player.

Being the son of a four-time Most Valuable Player brings extra attention along with it. Bronny has 7.7 million Instagram followers and pundits have followed his journey for years.

Despite that, his path has not been entirely smooth. Bronny had a cardiac arrest in training last July, after which he was only cleared to return to basketball last November, having been found to have a congenital heart defect.

Bronny is not expected to play a major role for the Lakers in his rookie season, but the possibility of him appearing alongside his father is likely to garner plenty of attention.

Lakers player Anthony Davis spoke to ESPN about Bronny before Thursday's second round of the draft, saying: "He's very good defensively. He can read the floor very well. I think he's a really good playmaker.

"I think he's going to be fine, man. Obviously it's a lot of pressure on him with his dad being who he is."

Bronny aka James Jnr
Image: COURTESY

Analysis

BBC Sport's Sam Harris

As historic as the potential first-time father-son duo in the NBA is, Bronny James will aim to carve out a legacy far beyond that as he embarks on his blossoming NBA career.

Playing alongside one of the league's greatest players and its all-time leading scorer is a challenge in itself. When that player is your father, the spotlight and expectations intensify even further.

Bronny's college career was unfortunately marred by health complications, limiting his stat line massively.

Nevertheless, Bronny brings a strong defensive presence, particularly on the perimeter, excelling in point-of-attack defence with remarkable agility and tenacity.

Those skills were all evident at the 2024 draft combine where he climbed the rankings in Chicago, bolstered by standout performances in the three-point shooting contest and agility drills.

Bronny most likely won't be a major offensive component in his first year as a Laker; he might even play some G-League minutes too.

He will have to work on his ability to score inside the paint, unlocking a wider shot selection as well as finesse his shooting from behind the arc.

A guard his size needs to be able to hit threes a lot better than what he managed at USC (26.7%). Especially if he's getting limited rotation minutes.

Being the 55th pick in the second round of a draft class that didn't have much in the way of standout talent will take some pressure off his shoulders.

But having watched LeBron James over the years, you know that nothing but being on the top of the mountain will suffice and you'd imagine Bronny's mindset will be no different at all.

It's another Hollywood narrative for the LA Lakers who appointed former NBA star JJ Redick as head coach just last week.

Let's see if it will pay off as they search for that 18th championship.

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