The case for and against

Bronny James

Bronny James
Photography: AP

Despite being the only prospect outside of the top 23 to make the McDonald’s All-American team, Bronny James is the game’s main star. The 34th ranked recruit in 2023 he’s getting a dramatically bigger hit on the brand because of his last name than Arch Manning, and I don’t know if I should be outraged or sympathetic. It is possible that two things are true, but diametrically opposed feelings? That’s bullshit.

A case for rage

I’d like to think that most rational people think influencers are bad. The term, shameless hawking of products and integrity, incomprehensible attachment to the Internet. The sale used to be slandered, and now the kids can’t do it fast enough. I personally blame the decline of the music industry and artists who have to market their music anywhere because there is no revenue from album sales, but I digress.

What does that have to do with Bronny? It would be harsh to call him an influencer who works illegally as an NBA prospect, but I can assure you, people who are against LeBron James feel that way. Obviously, Bronny is getting more famous because of who his father is. The king’s son was in Nike commercials and Space Jam 2 (not sure if that’s a compliment, but let’s move on).

Although logical fans know that Bronny is not the second coming of his father, LeBronites face the terrifying reality of their favorite player’s career coming to an end. Who the hell are they supposed to root for if they spent an entire NBA fanbase rooting for a player and not a team? The opposite is also true. LeBron haters will be left without an entity to throw memes at each season.

If LeBron wanted to, he would pass the league torch to his son when they inevitably play together on a team. (Anthony Davis certainly won’t stand for it.) Knowingly or not, LeBron also carries the torch of hatred.

It’s fair (or downright illogical) to go from rooting for (or against) the father to rooting for (or against) the son, especially if you have no guidance. I’d say that people who hate LeBron – even if they’re not bothered by real-world nepotism – will have (already have?) a selective amount of anger about favoring his son. Skip Bayless he has already launched the first diatribe.

The internet has enough hate to spread it, and the items on that list are nepotism, internet smears, and LeBron. So good luck to Bronny.

A case for sympathy

For all these reasons just stated that he doesn’t like Bronny, he’s still just an 18 year old kid. The pressure he faces because of his name is unfair. LeBron even admitted it regrets giving his son his name. The bar is set unreasonably high, but that’s not Bronny’s fault.

He grew up on the Internet, literally, and has been in the public eye for two decades. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, something his father worked hard to instill. So what if he has a large number of followers on Instagram and Tik Flow? Seriously, who cares?

He is a young, black child who lives like a nobleman and takes full advantage of the opportunities his father gives him. America generally loves a succession story, so why should this be any different? There are countless Hollywood stars who got into acting thanks to a famous parent, and we don’t hold it against them even if they aren’t as great as their predecessors. Who doesn’t love Rashida Jones or Scott Caan? (And who didn’t like Paul Giamatti before those Verizon commercials?)

In any case, Bronny will learn very quickly how difficult the road to NBA importance really is. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brothers are anywhere from 4 to 7 inches taller than him, and they still can’t make a rotation. There is no doubt that young James will be on an NBA roster in a few years, as LeBron can still play and has said he wants to play with his son. Teams will line up if all it takes to get a year out of LeBron is a second-round pick or an undrafted free agent pick.

If that’s the case, the thought of Bronny’s career highlight being an alley-oops exchange with his dad is… sad. It would be great for basketball if this were Griffey’s situation, but Ken Griffey Jr. was the No. 1 overall prospect out of high school. The Mariners selected him first overall. Bronny has improved his ranking, but if he could jump straight from high school to the NBA, it would remain unregistered if it were called by any other name. He’s a combo guard, so the best case scenario is, what, a more athletic Seth Curry without the legacy jump shot?

This is a long way of saying, Bronny can be angry or sympathetic, and I don’t know whether to mock him or defend him. It will probably be a bit of both, so feel free to call me a hypocrite.

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