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Bronny James just focused on ‘making it to the league’

CHICAGO — As Bronny James leaned back in his chair and surveyed the swarm of media members who surrounded him Tuesday night at the NBA draft, he recognized the extra attention that can bring being the son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. “a lot sometimes.”

Still, the 19-year-old USC guard reiterated Tuesday that his goal is simply to play in the NBA and that he is not focused on playing for the same team as his father.

“I would be happy to get into the league instead of thinking about playing with my dad,” James said Tuesday night. “That’s not my mindset at all. I’m just trying to work and see where it takes me from there.”

James said he had been in touch this week with his father, who checked in with him with words of encouragement. But although the two share the same name, James said Tuesday that he is focused on creating his own name.

He rejected comparisons of primary offensive initiators in the NBA and instead likened his game to players such as Boston’s Jrue Holiday and Derrick White or Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell for the way they influence victory by excelling in their roles.

“Bronny was just a nickname I was given when I was younger,” James said. “But everything after my dad, people just try to tie me to that and all the greatness that he accomplished. I haven’t done anything yet, so I feel like there must be this gap between Bronny and LeBron.

“Everyone has heard this before. I just want people to know that my name is Bronny James and I’m not identified as just LeBron James’ son. I think that would be great.”

James had the chance to begin his separation this week, after being medically cleared to return to court this week following a cardiac arrest and procedure to repair a congenital heart defect nine months ago.

James participated in a scrimmage with the rest of the draft prospects on Tuesday, scoring four points (2 of 8 on field goals) and four rebounds in 19 minutes. That didn’t maintain the momentum James had built after a strong performance on opening night of the combine — which included knocking down 19/25 from 3 with a 40-inch vertical.

“My job is just to play a role and play the right way, make sure I get my teammates involved and stuff like that,” James said. “But again, I was very grateful for the opportunity to be there. I felt like I should be there.”

James used that word, grateful, several times during his media session Tuesday, emphasizing that he was grateful to be on the field given that at one point after his diagnosis he wasn’t sure to be able to play again.

“It was definitely a tough time,” James said. “But all that work I put in really made me someone who would never give up and it paid off. I worked through that situation and I’m back where I want to be.”

James acknowledged that his heart problems had an effect on his first season at USC, averaging 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Although he has been medically cleared, James said he is still overcoming some lingering doubts following the problem.

“I feel like my parents were a big factor in believing in me and giving me the love and affection I needed at that time,” he said. “I still think about everything that could happen, but I love the game so much that it dominates me.”

James has declared himself a candidate for the June draft while maintaining his college eligibility and has until May 29 to decide whether he wants to enter the draft or return to college; where he decided to explore the transfer portal.

James said he has not made his final decision on whether to enter the NBA draft, which takes place June 26-27, but added that he will take some time to weigh his options before taking the final decision.

“A lot of thinking, a lot of time alone and thinking about where I want to be and where my heart wants me to be,” James said.

News Source : www.espn.com
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