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The Lakers have signed Bronny James. But was it because of his famous NBA father LeBron James? 

The 19-year-old basketball up-and-comer is under enormous pressure to prove himself amid speculation over whether his move to the Lakers was deserved
  • Regardless of the circumstances of the younger man’s move, LeBron James and Bronny James have made history as the first father-son duo in the NBA

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From suffering a cardiac arrest in July 2023 to being drafted by one of the most successful teams in the NBA, Bronny James has been through it all within a year. He will join the Los Angeles Lakers, playing alongside his father LeBron James, and the two will become the first father-son duo in the history of the NBA.

For LeBron James, the question “Why?” was foremost when his son told him that he wanted to go pro. In an interview on the Shop, LeBron said Bronny replied “Because I want to make a name for myself.” 

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The LA Lakers selected Bronny as the 55th pick in the 2024 NBA draft last week. The 19-year-old is aware of the pressure he is set to face playing alongside his dad and explains that he has already seen a lot of talk on social media. 

“I’ve been dealing with stuff like this my whole life, he said during his introductory press conference. “It’s nothing different. It’s more amplified for sure, but I can get through it.” 

Will Bronny live up to the high expectations? Fans will soon find out. Meanwhile, here’s all you need to know about the allegations of nepotism, Bronny’s background and how much he’ll now earn.

What are people saying about Bronny James and nepotism?

Yes, Bronny being drafted by the Lakers has created some controversy. Newly appointed Lakers head coach JJ Redick explained that he and general manager Rob Pelinka did not “give Bronny anything,” and said the young athlete earned the contract “through hard work.”

Even former Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade came out in defence of his ex-teammate’s son Bronny on the TODAY show

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“They haven’t seen Bronny James get up at 5 am to live his dream, and the work he’s put in behind the scenes to get to this point is incredible,” he says. “I love it, we’re all going to follow it, we’re all rooting for Bronny – and everybody, just allow Bronny to be him.” 

ESPN senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski also hit back at claims involving nepotism, saying “The NBA is full of [it]. The ownership level, front offices, coaching. I don’t want to hear about it all of a sudden because Bronny James’ father plays for the Lakers. It is rampant in this league.”

Bronny says it’s time for him to show up on the court to prove haters wrong. 

“I’m trying to get my name out for myself,” Bronny said. “I just want to come in and get my work in and get better every day. I never really had a thought of me going to play with my dad … it wasn’t a main focus of mine.”

Where was Bronny James before the draft?

Bronny posing for a picture during his time at the University of Southern California
Bronny posing for a picture during his time at the University of Southern California – Photo courtesy of the USC Trojans

Bronny joined the University of Southern California (USC) in June 2023 but was held back by a cardiac arrest he suffered during a USC summer practice a month later. He returned to action four months later after being cleared by the doctors. He joined the team mid-season and averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Not great numbers for a potential draftee. 

Wojnarowski told NBA on ESPN “When people want to judge his freshman season at USC and the lack of production you might normally see, you have to take into consideration what those previous five months were, not just the physical comeback from an episode like that, but the mental comeback.” He continued to explain that for a young player like Bronny, there is so much more room for growth. 

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The 6-foot-1 guard caught even more attention from NBA teams during the 2024 draft combine in Chicago. He recorded a 40.50-inch max vertical, the fourth highest among participants and impressed during the 3-point shooting drill. In other reports, he hit a lane agility time of 10.96 seconds, 3.02 in shuttle runs and 3.09 in three-quarter sprints. During this second scrimmage, Sporting News reported Bronny as “one of the best players on the floor.” 

In a scout report by Kyle Irving for the Sporting News, the reporter also suggested that while many believe he got through because of his father, he thinks otherwise. “Others, like myself, are firm in that he has the physical tools and basketball IQ to be more successful at the NBA level than he was in college,” he says.

Bronny hopes to up his game under the Lakers’ player development system and explained that another year in college would not help much with that. “I just feel like I’ve been given the opportunity to showcase what I can really do because I wasn’t given that much of an opportunity at SC,” he said. “So I’m excited for what it’s going to be.”

What was LeBron James’ reaction to son Bronny being drafted by the LA Lakers?

Bronny with his father and NBA superstar LeBron James at the 2023 McDonald's All-American game
Bronny with his father and NBA superstar LeBron James at the 2023 McDonald’s All-American game – Photo courtesy of the NBA

LeBron James went straight to social media to post “LEGACY!!!!!!” 

History has been made in the NBA. But it also comes by no surprise as LeBron had predicted (or hoped) that he would someday play alongside Bronny. In an interview with the Athletic in 2022, he said “My last year will be played with my son. Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

The father-son duo are inseparable and are each other’s biggest supporters. From LeBron being up on his feet when his Bronny shot the winner in a high school final, to Bronny celebrating when LeBron broke the NBA all-time scoring record. The two, along with LeBrons younger son Bryce – who also plays basketball – spend a lot of time training together. And they are now set to share the court. 

LeBron also recently signed a 2-year contract worth US$104 million to stay with the Lakers

When will we see Bronny in a Lakers jersey?

Bronny is already called to action by the Lakers
Bronny is already called to action by the Lakers – Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers

On Tuesday, Bronny and 17th pick Dalton Knecht arrived at the club’s training centre in El Segundo. Bronny will wear jersey number 9 and Knecht the number 4. 

Fans will see the two rookies for the first time in the NBA Summer League under coach Dane Johnson and supervised by Lakers head coach JJ Redick. 

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How much will Bronny earn?

Bronny James will earn close to US$2 million annually across four years, according to Spotrac. He will also receive a guaranteed US$5.4 million. 

The player also earns money for social media posts as well as endorsements. According to Forbes, Bronny is already worth an estimated $10 million, with two of his biggest sponsors being Nike and Beats by Dr. Dre. 

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