Plaschke: Bronny James didn't ask for the attention, so give him a break



He seems so small. He seems so young.

Sitting on a stage with two seasoned NBA types and a veteran collegian Tuesday, Bronny James looked like a kid sitting at the adults’ table.

The Lakers’ JJ Redick, Rob Pelinka and Dalton Knecht answered questions about basketball. Bronny answered questions about his father.

Who happened to be standing in the back.

“For sure, an amplified amount of pressure,” the 19-year-old son of LeBron James said. “I’ve already seen it on social media … and the internet … talking about that I might not deserve an opportunity. But I’ve been dealing with stuff like this my whole life. So it’s nothing different.”

He sighed. “But it’s more amplified, for sure. But I’ll get through it.”

Imagine attending your first NBA news conference and already talking about enduring the pressure. How fair is that? But that is the position in which LeBron and the Lakers have put this young man by drafting him 55th when nobody else was going to take him, making him a pro when he should have stayed in college.

Threw him to the wolves and now he must fend for himself, and it might not be pretty.

“Living by the days, trying not to care about what other people think about me because there’s a lot of people that, you know, have something to say,” Bronny said. “I’m just taking it by the day and staying sane while doing it.”

Imagine celebrating one of the highlights of your young life — these debut pressers are supposed to be fun! — by feeling a need to remind everyone that you are staying sane. How fair is that? Thanks again to LeBron and the Lakers for creating hysteria in an attempt to make history.

Bronny handled Tuesday’s show at the Lakers’ training facility smartly and maturely, and thank goodness, because this is a child who is not going to be given much room to grow up.

When he was asked if hanging around his father would make his transition to the NBA easier, he bristled.

“I had my own basketball stuff going on, so I wasn’t really, you know, in my dad’s pocket all day, you know, following him around the Lakers facility,” he said. “Yeah, I’ve had some stories, but … I don’t know what, you know, exactly is to come.”

What’s to come is madness. Each of his minutes in the summer league will be analyzed as if he’s playing in the NBA Finals. Derisive chants from overserved Las Vegas patrons are likely to be shouted as if he’s a villain.

If he starts the season with the Lakers, he will be hounded until he and his father make history by playing on the court at the same time. And if he doesn’t start the season with the Lakers, G League jokes will abound.

“Everything has been surreal, I’m just trying to take it all in,” Bronny said. “I’m extremely grateful for everything that JJ and Rob have given to me. I’ve just been extremely excited to get to work.”

Even that innocuous quote was dissected to death, this time by Redick himself. The minute Bronny mentioned that something was given to him, his new coach rushed to disagree.

“I want to clarify one thing … which is, Rob and I did not give Bronny anything,” Redick said. “Bronny has earned this, right? … Bronny has earned this through hard work. And for us, prioritizing player development, we view Bronny as like, Case Study 1, because his base level of feel, athleticism, point-of-attack defender, shooting, passing, there’s a lot to like about his game. And as we sort of build out our player development program holistically, he’s going to have a great opportunity to become an excellent NBA player.”

Even as he defended Bronny’s big league qualifications, Redick sounded like Dodgers manager Dave Roberts talking about a double-A prospect on the first day of spring training.

There’s no hiding the fact that the kid will probably not be ready for this NBA season. But that’s not his fault. And here’s hoping everyone will chill long enough to let Bronny learn and stop hating long enough to realize that none of this is his fault.

Yes, the Lakers will make him a millionaire simply because he is LeBron James’ son. No, there are no solid indications that he is worth it.

But he didn’t ask for any of this.

When the craziness of his journey started, he was one of the country’s top college prospects and headed for a local college and directly on a path to the draft’s first round.

He didn’t ask for his father to publicly profess a desire to play on the same team with him

He didn’t ask for the cardiac arrest event that cost him any meaningful time at USC.

He didn’t ask to be drafted by the Lakers, even as his agent Rich Paul was steering him in that direction.

Everybody in Bronny’s circle seemed very open about wanting him to be teammates with LeBron … everyone except Bronny.

“I never really had a thought of, you know, me going to play with my dad,” he said. “But that’s always, you know, there to, you know, take part of. But that wasn’t the main focus of mine.”

Oh, he’s taking part of it, all right. He’s being wholly consumed by it.

The only time Bronny was able to offer a peek into his singular personality Tuesday was when he was asked about wearing No. 9, which he says honors the late Juice Wrld, a rapper who died of a drug overdose in 2019 at age 21.

Juice Wrld had a 999 tattoo that was the demonic 666 turned upside down, and in an interview with MTV he said it represented, “whatever the bad situation or whatever struggle you going through and turning it into something positive.”

Yeah, he had Bronny’s number.

“Juice has just been a big part of me keeping calm in some situations that I’ve been through,” Bronny said.

A storm is coming. Bronny James needs that inspiration. Here’s hoping he is given a chance to find it.



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