Bronny James Dazzles in Lakers Debut, Carrying the Family Legacy

Bronny James Impresses In First Game For Lakers

Bronny James made his debut at the NBA Summer League on July 6 and was surprised by the warm reception he received in the city where his father played some of the most intense NBA Finals games.

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“The atmosphere,” Bronny said when asked what surprised him the most after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 94-108 loss to the Sacramento Kings in the California Classic opener.

“It was more than I expected. I mean, this is a big game for me, but I didn’t know if people from Golden State would come out and support me. It was great to see that.”

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The eldest James finished the game with 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 22 minutes of play. Dane Johnson, the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers’ G-League affiliate South Bay Lakers, fielded Bronny alongside Colin Castleton, Sean East II, Dalton Knecht, and Maxwell Lewis.

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“He just needs to keep learning, keep practicing, and recognize his potential,” Johnson said. “For instance, he could drive more aggressively if he uses his shoulder when he has the advantage over his opponent. And just build that confidence in him.”

It was a stark contrast to LeBron James’ summer league debut in Orlando, Florida, in 2003, where LeBron scored 14 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists. Fans even hid under cars in the players’ parking lot just to catch a glimpse of “King James” as he got off the team bus.

However, LeBron was the No. 1 pick, while Bronny is No. 55. The expectations for Bronny’s debut were still high, with a line of cameras along the sideline an hour before the game started to capture the 6’1″ guard’s pre-game warm-ups.

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Midway through the second half, James showed the defensive potential the Lakers saw when they picked him, stealing the ball and starting a fast break that ended with a Blake Hinson assist to Kyle Mangas for a score.

“Moments like that can slow the game down,” Bronny said about the second-half play. “Slow the game down for you, especially since I wasn’t as effective earlier as I wanted to be.”

He missed his first three shots, made one, then missed four more before scoring again with a mid-range jumper midway through the third quarter.

James’ summer league debut marked his first game in nearly four months since his college career ended unremarkably with USC’s 70-49 loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, where James scored only 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting, with 1 rebound and 1 steal.

Speaking to reporters after the first day of Team USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas, LeBron dismissed any statistical struggles Bronny might encounter.

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“What he does at the California Classic and summer league, it doesn’t matter if he plays well or doesn’t play well,” LeBron said. “I just want him to continue growing through practices, watching film, and personal workouts. You can’t take any statistics from the California Classic and summer league and apply them to the regular season. So, the only thing that matters is that he progresses and gains experience day by day.”

The Lakers will play two more games in the California Classic on July 7 against the Golden State Warriors and July 10 against the Miami Heat, before heading to Las Vegas, where they will open against the Houston Rockets on July 12.

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