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Would an NBA team draft the son of Lebron James if it helps them sign his father?


There are lots of dads who love it when they get the chance to work at the same place with their son. Happens all the time, except hardly ever for a professional athlete in a team sport. Now, the one that likely stands out the most is when Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. played in the Seattle Mariners outfield in the early '90s. Now, after tonight's NBA draft, it could happen for LeBron James. That's because his son Bronny could have his name called. Here to tell us all about it is Jesse Washington with ESPN's Andscape. So, first off, tell us who is Bronny James, and what kind of a player is he?

JESSE WASHINGTON: Yeah, he's got potential, A. You know, he's also 6'2 in sneakers. He had a unremarkable one season in college at USC - didn't shoot the ball great. So he might be a good NBA player down the line, or he might just be LeBron's son.

MARTÍNEZ: Right. OK, his father, LeBron, is a free agent. That means that he can sign with any team. He's not with any team right now but played for the Lakers the last few years. So what does LeBron James in his current status have to do with the NBA draft?

WASHINGTON: Well, LeBron has made it clear over the past year or two that he would love to play with his son. And who wouldn't? I mean, in the NBA, it's never been done before. And it would just be one more incredible milestone in a bunch of unprecedented things that LeBron has done. So he sent the message. LeBron is sort of a - he operates behind the scenes most of the time. And so he has let the Lakers know that he would like to do this, but he's not out front. He's not making any demands. But LeBron does not have to re-sign until after the draft, so there's this - the Lakers certainly know that to get LeBron back, it would help to somehow get Bronny on their roster.

MARTÍNEZ: So, I mean, there are only two rounds in the NBA draft, Jesse. I mean, would a team really use one of their two very valuable picks on the son of a player that they might have a chance to sign?

WASHINGTON: When that player is the GOAT, LeBron - all-time leading scorer, box office draw - I mean, yes. The Lakers have the 55th pick in the second round, and that is probably a good place, you know, for Bronny to go. That's where people are looking, or they could just bring him in as a free agent and sign him. They have 15 spots on their roster. Certainly one of those could go to the son of arguably the greatest player of all time.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, as much as LeBron maybe has put those, you know, messages out there, I mean, is he kind of not doing a favor to his son, I mean, 'cause think about, like, kind of the pressure that that puts both of them in, but especially Bronny?

WASHINGTON: Yeah, that's the big question here. And, you know, dads - it's a tough job. It's the hardest and most rewarding job in the world. And how much help do we need to give our sons, and how much should we let them do it on our own? What does Bronny want? You know, certainly the pressure that Bronny is under is immense. He's going to be playing under a microscope like no other. And I think that the James family obviously has thought all this through and is ready for it. It sounds somewhat similar to the entrance of LeBron James Sr. in the NBA almost 20 years ago.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Can you imagine, like, that moment when Ken Griffey Jr. stole a fly ball from his dad? A moment where maybe LeBron sets up Bronny for a slam or maybe the other way around - something like that could be fun.

WASHINGTON: The oop is inevitable. The only thing we don't know is who's going to throw the lob and who's going to bang it home. But we are gonna see that in the NBA this season.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Jesse Washington with ESPN's Andscape. Thanks a lot, Jesse.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.