By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Desk
LeBron James didn’t let out any groundbreaking news this week when he admitted he regrets handing his name down to his oldest son, who now faces extreme pressure and scrutiny as he enters the world of amateur basketball as an early teenage AAU star. Fresh off a crazy week in which the younger James had one of his games cancelled due to a overzealous heckler, James was quoted as saying in his upcoming HBO series “The Shop” that “I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name.” The younger James has earned positive reviews as a seventh-grader who brings a mature edge to the game. He can shoot, handle, defend and even dunk—well, almost. James has had pressure since he developed into a high school phenom but now who has it more? Him or his son? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate.
LeBron James (l) and his son LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. (AP Photo and YouTube Screenshot)
Green: When you have opponents and their parents chanting “overrated“ at your AAU games and you haven’t even broken into the evil world of high school then it’s safe to say the pressure’s on you, kid. The young LeBron James Jr., aka “Bronny” obviously has talent, but it doesn’t help when it leaks that your father regrets giving you his name in fear of the pressure you’ll face later then shows up at your pregame doing dunks in the free throw line. Thanks dad. The older James has accomplished enough in his career that he can hand out accolades to multiple NBA guys and still have enough left over for a healthy trophy case. Just as with Michael Jordan’s son, sometimes the weight of your father’s shadow is too much.
Riley: I haven’t seen a player yet in AAU or even a retired NBA veteran who’s had more pressure than the 33-year-old James. The same guy who got his jersey burned in the streets of his home state murals defaced in his new team’s home state, the pressure is always high when talking about James. Most kids are playing AAU basketball trying to get into the NBA to land that paycheck but Bronny’s future is already laid out for him no matter if he plays basketball or not. Life is good as a 14-year-old living in Los Angeles with your father as a millionaire.
Green: The fact that his father is so successful puts even more of a focus on Bronny to live up to those expectations. Every son wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps in some way and, LeBron seems like a cool father, why would his sons not want to be like him? No matter where Bronny goes he’ll hear the opening line of “Oh, you are LeBron’s son,” at every turn. He’ll never have a chance to live up to his own greatness because his name reminds everyone of his dad. Even some of the greatest players in the history of the game don’t have a resume as polished as LeBron’s from high school to now, making it a supreme long shot for Bronny to ever reach those heights.
Riley: But even if Bronny never becomes halfway near the player his dad was then what? He’ll go home to one of his mansions or walk into any job of his choosing. LeBron had his high school games televised live, I just don’t see how the pressure will ever be similar. James has paved the way for Bronny and the rest of the family to live a great life while he’s taken the brunt of criticism—whether for his jump shot or for going to Miami or for not being able to beat Golden State more than the one time in their four Finals matchups. Sure, Bronny wants to be his own man and develop, but there’s no life or death situation for the younger James. His father came from borderline poverty to become one of the world’s best players if not the greatest of all time and he did that with a bullseye on his back that’s still there under circumstances that most people would crumble under. And, he’s still going. Sorry, Bronny, your father had and still has it way worst than you.