MNO Sports >MMA Arena >Bronny James says he's ready for "amplified" pressure during introductory press conference - NBC Sports

Bronny James says he's ready for "amplified" pressure during introductory press conference - NBC Sports

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Los Angeles Lakers 2024 Draft Press Conference

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 2: Bronny James of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a press conference on July 2, 2024 at UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — As with all things Bronny James and the Lakers, his father’s shadow looms over everything. Even as Bronny tries to carve his own path.

There was Bronny on the makeshift stage at the Lakers practice facility Tuesday, being formally introduced as a member of the storied franchise — along with Lakers first-round pick Dalton Knecht — and talking about his father not being why or how he makes decisions.

“I just want to come in and get my work in and get better every day. I never really had a thought of me going to play with my dad,” Bronny said. “That’s always there to take part of, but it wasn’t a main focus of mine.”

Yet, in the back of the room loomed LeBron, in shorts and a hoodie, listening in and with plenty of cameras focused on him as he moved. Later, as Bronny walked off across the court and toward the Lakers locker rooms, father and son did their specialized handshake.

So it will go at the start of Bronny’s career. He will work to carve his own path, but it’s hard to escape the shadow of his father — the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a guy in the GOAT conversation, the face of the Lakers franchise, and still an All-NBA level player entering his age 40 season.

“Rob and I did not give Bronny anything,” new Lakers coach J.J. Redick said of them drafting Bronny at No. 55. “Bronny has earned this through hard work.

“For [the Lakers], prioritizing player development, we view Bronny as Case Study One, because his base level of feel, athleticism, point-of-attack defender, shooting, passing, there’s a lot to like about his game. As we build out our player development program holistically, he’s going to have the opportunity to be an excellent NBA player.”

So does Knecht — and the Lakers need him to do it sooner. Los Angeles drafted the 23-year-old out of Tennessee because he’s one of the best shooters in the draft and can immediately help a roster that has seen few changes so far this offseason. Both Knecht and Bronny will get the chance to show off their skills at Summer League.

Bronny has much farther to go and a lot of work to do to get there, according to scouts who have spoken to NBC Sports about Bronny. That shooting and passing that Redick talked about have to get better, as do his handles, and he had to prove that at 6'1" he can defend at an NBA level.

All of that is pretty much par for the course for a late second-round pick — those are players teams are taking a flier on. Bronny just gets to work on that development while on a guaranteed NBA contract, something few others in his shoes do.

He also will have to do it in a spotlight and under more pressure than other second-round picks.

“It’s for sure amplified the amount of pressure,” Bronny said. “I’ve already seen it on social media and on the internet talking about I might not deserve an opportunity. But I’ve been dealing with stuff like this for my whole life. It’s nothing different. It’s more amplified for sure, but I can get through it.”

It’s on him to get through it if Bronny wants to get out of his father’s shadow.

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