The case for and against

Bronny James
Photo: AP

Despite being the only prospect outside the top 23 to make the McDonald’s All-American team, Bronny James is the headliner of the game. That 34. placed recruit in 2023 gets a dramatically bigger brand bump from his last name than Arch Manning, and I don’t know whether to be outraged or sympathetic. It is possible for two things to be true, but diametrically opposed feelings? It’s mind-blowing.

The case of outrage

I’d like to think that most rational people think influencers are ugly. The expression, the shameless inhibition of products and integrity, an incomprehensible attachment to the Internet. Clearance used to be reviled and now kids can’t do it fast enough. I personally blame the decline of the music industry and acts who have to place their music anywhere because there is no income from album sales, but I digress.

What does this have to do with Bronny? It would be harsh to call him an influencer launching an NBA prospect, but I can assure you that anti-LeBron James people feel that way. Obviously, Bronny gets a huge boost in fame because of who his father is. The king’s son has been in Nike commercials and Space Jam 2 (not sure if that’s a compliment but let’s keep it going).

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 would they root for if they spent an entire NBA fanhood rooting for a player and not a team? The opposite is also true. LeBron haters will be without a device to throw memes at every season.

If LeBron had his way, he would pass the league torch to his son when they inevitably play on a team together. (Anthony Davis certainly won’t take it.) Knowingly or not, LeBron is also passing the torch of hate.

It’s reasonable (or completely illogical) to go from rooting for (or against) the father to rooting for (or against) the son, especially if you have no direction. I’d argue that the people who hate LeBron — even if they’re not bothered by real-world nepotism — will have (already have?) a selective amount of outrage over the favoritism shown his son. Skip Bayless has already launched the first diatribe.

The internet has enough hate to spread it around, and items on the list are nepotism, things anointed by the internet, and LeBron. So good luck to Bronny.

The case of sympathy

For all the reasons just mentioned that he doesn’t like Bronny, he’s still just an 18-year-old kid. The pressure he is under because of his name is unfair. LeBron has even acknowledged that he regrets giving his son his name. The bar is set unreasonably high, yet it’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 and that is something his father has worked hard to instill. So what if he has a large following on Instagram and Tik Tok? Seriously, who the hell cares?

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

In any case, Bronny will quickly learn how difficult the path to NBA relevance really is. Giannis Antetokuonmpo’s brothers are anywhere from four to seven inches taller than him and they still can’t crack a rotation. There is no doubt that young James will be on an NBA roster in a few years because LeBron can still jump and said he wanted 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 picking up an undrafted free agent.

If so, the idea of ​​Bronny’s career highlight being an exchange of alley-oops with his dad is… sad. It would be great for basketball if this were a Griffey-like situation, but Ken Griffey Jr. was the No. 1 overall 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, he would be unexercised if he went by another name. He’s a combo guard, so best case scenario The scenario is, what, a more athletic Seth Curry without the inherited jump shot?

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

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