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Bronny James, LeBron's son, could make NBA history

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Now to NBA News - Bronny James, the oldest son of four-time NBA champion Lebron James, was drafted Thursday by the Los Angeles Lakers. That is the same team that Lebron James has played for since 2018. If Lebron and Bronny James take the court together for the Lakers, they would be the first father-son duo to do so in NBA history. While some basketball fans see it as a heartwarming father-son sport story, others think Bronny is falling into the nepo baby trap.

Joining us now to talk about this moment in NBA history is Jovan Buha. He reports on the NBA for The Athletic. Jovan, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

JOVAN BUHA: Thank you for having me.

SUMMERS: OK, I just want to start out by asking you how big of a deal this is, Why should this particular NBA news story matter to people who maybe don't follow the Lakers, don't follow basketball at all, maybe?

BUHA: Yeah. Well, this story is such a big deal because Lebron James is one of the greatest NBA players of all time and, frankly, one of the greatest athletes we've ever seen. So when looking at just his career and the longevity that he's had and the fact that he's about to be turning 40, entering his 22nd NBA season, the fact that he can potentially play with his son next season, and that's the way that all things are trending toward, is just a historic moment.

SUMMERS: Can you just talk a bit about Bronny James as a player? He's 19. He spent one season at the University of Southern California. This is a big comeback after that cardiac arrest that he had during a practice with the Trojans.

BUHA: So before Bronny's cardiac arrest, he was projected as a first-round pick in this NBA draft, and I think that's something that gets overlooked when people talk about him and when they make the nepotism claims and they look at - well, you know, he would only get drafted because of his dad or because the Lakers are trying to appease Lebron. Like, there's certainly some truth to that. But Bronny was a first-round NBA prospect before this.

And, of course, this was a significant setback. It was a traumatic setback, and he's had to clear, again, several hurdles just to get back to this point. But if the draft was held a year ago and it was before that incident, Bronny would have gone in the first round. So for the Lakers to draft him at No. 55 and really take a flyer on him - I don't think it's as crazy as people - or some people are making it out to be.

SUMMERS: Last thing - do you think that Bronny would have made it to the NBA at 19 years old if he was not Bronny James? - if he was, I don't know, Jack Smith? What do you say to those who suggest that this is purely nepotism at play?

BUHA: There's certainly an element of that, and I think it would be naive to overlook that. Now, I will say, Bronny did impress at the combine, again, physically with his testing. He had the sixth highest vertical jump at the combine. He tested really well in the agility and speed drills. And then he also shot really well at the combine and shot well in the couple of individual workouts he did. So from a, like, workout standpoint and from a physicality standpoint, he impressed.

And I think, had the Klutch Sports not been angling to get him to the Lakers, there's a chance someone else could have taken him in the second round or, at a minimum, offered him a two-way contract or Exhibit 10 deal. So I think he is an NBA prospect. I just think it's - the value's in the eye of the beholder.

And, of course, like, his dad played a role in this. His agency played a role in this, and we can't overlook that. However, I do think people are tending to focus on the negative side of the story rather than the awesome side, which, to me, is a father and a son making history together and this player overcoming this potential tragedy to actualize his NBA dreams.

SUMMERS: That's Jovan Buha, senior NBA writer for The Athletic. Jovan, thank you.

BUHA: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF TONE SONG, "DRIP 2 HARD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Jordan-Marie Smith
Jordan-Marie Smith is a producer with NPR's All Things Considered.
Katia Riddle
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.
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