Kid must have had a great game even in defeat, right? Must have really showed out and given it his all to earn  this kind of coverage, right?  He did

Why is Nepotism Bad? Ask Adonis Arms - Freddie deBoer

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2024-07-08 16:00:05

Kid must have had a great game even in defeat, right? Must have really showed out and given it his all to earn this kind of coverage, right?

He did not. He in fact scored four points on two for nine shooting, including zero for three from three-point range and zero for two on free throws. Despite being a starter who played 22 minutes, he was outscored by every Laker who played save one. To this anemic scoring he added two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. This was sufficient for a late second-round pick in the NBA to receive significantly more coverage from ESPN this weekend than several MLB games that had major stakes in the standings. So what’s the secret?

The secret is that his name is Lebron “Bronny” James Jr., and he made his NBA debut in summer league this weekend. Summer league is an opportunity for young players to get some experience and start to adjust to NBA speed and NBA pressure, or at least as close to it as they can get. More importantly, summer league is where a lot of players determine if they’ll catch onto an NBA roster, or perhaps end up in the G League, the developmental league that functions something like the minor leagues in baseball. Guys in the G League do get called up to the NBA fairly regularly, but usually only in an end-of-bench capacity, playing in blowouts or emergency situations; for most of their games, they can usually expect to earn a DNP-CD. A vast majority of players who play in the G League at any given time will never be NBA rotation players, and the same is true of summer league. Even team allegiances mean little at this stage; players who were undrafted, and even those who were drafted later in the second (and final) round of the NBA draft, typically shuffle between franchises repeatedly early in their careers. Most of them are destined to play in Europe or China or Australia for bad pay and little attention, if they’re lucky.

But Bronny James is not most players. His father was the best player in the NBA for much of the past two decades and is still a top fifteenish player now, at 39 years old. James also happens to be the biggest NBA icon since the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. And now he’s entered the part of his career where comfort and post-basketball opportunity appear to be more important than winning championships. He has long harbored Hollywood dreams, despite the fact that Space Jam: A New Legacy exists. And the Lakers front office, which is notoriously dysfunctional and incestuous, seems to be fine with simply hosting Lebron’s eventual retirement tour. The Buss family, majority owners of the team, are not independently wealthy outside of the franchise and appear unwilling to shake up their leadership situation, which defaults to some strange mix of owner Jeannie Buss, GM Rob Pelinka, “senior basketball advisor” and string-puller Kurt Rambis, James and his agent Rich Paul, and a host of other figures who apparently wield influence. I’m sure they’d all like to win, but their games will sell out regardless, and it’s LA and it’s glamorous and you’ve got the stars and the weather and the beach. 1 Lebron would have muscled Bronny into a roster spot no matter what happened, but on a team that’s destined to muddle around to make the play-in round and then get bounced via gentleman’s sweep, you better believe there’s room for Lebron’s kid. It’s like Ken Griffey Jr., if he was bad instead of good.

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