Lakers select Bronny James in NBA draft, pair him with LeBron James

NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Lakers The Lakers selected Bronny James with the 55th pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, a major step in Lakers star LeBron James’ longtime dream of teaming up with his eldest son in the NBA.

For James, 19, who spent a season at the University of Southern California, the second-round draft selection completes a remarkable comeback from a sudden cardiac arrest he suffered during a practice with the Trojans in July 2023. Shortly after the incident, James’ family announced that he would seek to return to basketball after consulting with several doctors, and he debuted at USC in December.

“There’s nothing better in this (fuck) world than raising my boys to be MEN,” LeBron James wrote Wednesday alongside an Instagram photo of himself playing basketball with Bronny and his 17-year-old son Bryce. “He comes here and gets so emotional just thinking about your journey so far! Thank you both for letting me be your DADDY and part of your compass through life’s trials and tribulations!”

The NBA’s inaugural two-day draft took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for Wednesday’s first round and at an ESPN studio in Manhattan for Thursday’s second round. The James family traveled to New York for draft week, but James did not attend draft ceremonies and was not available for media interviews.

ESPN commentator Bob Myers said during the draft’s broadcast Thursday that James’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, had “a plan and a place” to land his client with the Lakers .

“Rich Paul is calling teams (and telling them) not to take Bronny James,” Myers said early in the second round. “(Paul) says, ‘If you take him, he’s going to Australia.’”

LeBron James, 39, has long hoped that he and Bronny will become the basketball version of Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr., who were teammates on the Seattle Mariners in MLB in 1990 and 1991. James has been a regular at his son’s USC games, high school and AAU tournaments in recent years. If LeBron and Bronny James take the court together, they will become the first father-son duo to accomplish that feat in NBA history.

Bronny James, who first gained national attention as a freshman at Sierra Canyon School north of Los Angeles, has become a four-star recruit and one of the highest-earning name, image and likeness (NIL) athletes given his celebrity and massive social media following.

On the court, the 1.88m guard averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 games for USC, and he spent most of the season as a backup. James showed his abilities as a perimeter defender, but he wasn’t used as a primary playmaker and shot just 26.7 percent on three-pointers.

After the Trojans finished a disappointing 15-18 and failed to reach the NCAA tournament, coach Andy Enfield left for Southern Methodist University and James both declared for the draft. NBA and entered the NCAA transfer portal. He then opted to remain in the draft and participated in the NBA scout group in Chicago.

“I’ve had a year with many ups and downs, but it’s all contributed to my growth as a man, student, and athlete,” James wrote on Instagram in April when announcing his departure from USC. “I’ve made the decision to enter the NBA Draft while maintaining my college eligibility, and I’ll also be entering the NCAA transfer portal. Thank you to USC for an incredible first year, and as always, I’m grateful to my family, friends, doctors, athletic trainers, and fans for their support.”

LeBron James’ contract with the Lakers includes a $54.1 million player option for the 2024-25 season, and he has until Saturday to decide whether or not he will exercise it. The 21-year veteran is reportedly looking to extend his contract for several years with the Lakers, who hired JJ Redick, James’ podcast co-host, as coach this month.

“I’m going to dedicate this season to Bronny because of the incident that happened this summer,” LeBron James said last October. “It puts everything in perspective. No matter what’s going on in your life at the time, the only thing that matters is your family. To see what he’s been through the last few months, it’s been a lot. I can only imagine what it’s been like for him because it’s been a lot for me and our family.”

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