In today's NBA, we’re seeing more and more second-generation
players. Stephen Curry is probably the most notable example, but
Jerami Grant, Jalen Brunson and Jaren Jackson, Jr. are also the
sons of former NBA players. And there’s a lot more of them out
Throughout the course of NBA history, there have been a lot of
basketball dads, including some who were able to coach their sons.
Doc Rivers coached his son, Austin, and George Karl coached against
his son Coby.
However, there’s something we’ve never seen before, and that’s a
During All-Star Weekend, LeBron James admitted that he wants to
become the first dad to play alongside his son, Bronny, and I'm
hoping that we can witness that.
LeBron teaming up with his son would be a completely different
level of accomplishment. And yes, it would be an
As athletes (especially NBA players) trying to win
championships, we know that there’s only so much we can control. We
can eat right, have the best habits and act as great teammates and
good coaches. Winning is hard, succeeding is hard, and doing so for
20 years is damn-near impossible.
LeBron has done it, though.
A lot has to line up for that to potentially happen. LeBron is
37 years old and much closer to the end of his career than the
beginning, but that’s why this is an incredible accomplishment and
why it’s worth pursuing.
LeBron came into the league and fulfilled every expectation
people ever had of him. He’s been so good for so long that, even at
this point in his career, any team in the league would want to have
him. He’s been so good for so long that he was able to have a son,
help raise him into a young man and help put him in a pretty good
situation, all while still being arguably the best player in the
For Bronny, the NBA is the goal, and it’s not too far off.
If things continue to play out the way they have been, LeBron
sharing an NBA floor with his son may actually be a reality one
day. That’s not something that anyone could have ever imagined
being possible, probably not even LeBron himself.
I also am a very proud basketball dad. My son Jace is about
Bronny’s age, and as he’s grown up, Jace and I have had plenty of
competitions, teaching moments and conversations about the chase to
be great. Some of my fond memories from coaching in Cleveland are
flashbacks of Jace and Bronny as young kids playing pickup and
doing their own shooting drills in our practice gym. They were more
interested in playing and getting better than they were watching
us, so much so that they would be in the practice gym even while we
had games going on.
I know what it feels like to watch your son grow up and try to
follow in your footsteps. I also know that, for our children, it’s
If you follow me on social media, you’ve
probably seen me retweeting things about Jace. Even though I want
him to stay grounded, I also want him to know that I’m his biggest
As a basketball dad, I have to walk a fine line between being my
son’s biggest motivator and his biggest critic. On one hand, as a
former pro player, I feel like I can help to guide him and develop
him, but on the other, I want him to understand that being a pro
player's son is a bit of a burden that he’ll carry whenever he
laces up his sneakers.
When Bronny, Jace and other players' children walk on the court,
they may as well be wearing a target on their back. There are
young, hungry players out there who look at kids like Jace and
Bronny as opportunities to get some shine. That’s something they've
got to be ready for.
At the same time, people are going to have high expectations for
these young players, because if their dad played professionally,
they'll be expected to have similar abilities. But not every kid
can handle that, and a lot of them decide not to follow in their
dad’s footsteps for that exact reason.
So, yeah. Tough love.
To this day, Jace hasn’t beaten me in a pickup game, and I’m
damn sure never going to take it easy on him because I know nobody
else competing against him will. I want him to stay humble and
realize that the work never stops, and that just because he’s my
son, it doesn’t mean things will be handed to him. If anything, it
means he’s going to have to work that much harder.
Bronny's experience must be magnified by 1,000. To be honest, I
can’t even imagine what it must be like for him. Imagine being the
son of the world’s most famous basketball player. Imagine what it
must be like for everyone out there to want to bust your ass so
they can say they got the better of LeBron’s son.
Jace faces that as my son, and there’s really no comparison
between LeBron and me.
Like I said, tough love.
When I watch Jace play, I try to make sure I never get too hyped
up or too excited about the things he’s able to do on the court
because I want him to maintain his edge and never be satisfied.
That’s a challenge that we as basketball dads have — we’re
constantly coaching and criticizing but always trying to stay
positive and encouraging.
Why am I even saying all of this? Because basketball dads,
particularly those who played in the NBA, have a unique
perspective. When Jace picked up a basketball at 4 years old and
decided he wanted to shoot hoops like his daddy, I couldn’t imagine
being able to play with him as a pro. Part of that is because when
Jace was born, I was about 10 years older than LeBron was when
Bronny was born, but another part of it was that I just can’t say I
envisioned being able to have the will, desire and good fortune to
last in the league for as long as it would have taken.
Truth be told, it was probably hard for LeBron to imagine that
too, which is probably why this has only become a conversation in
the very recent past. But, because ‘Bron is still playing at such a
high level, it feels like it’s close. How can we not be
As a dad, there’s no better feeling than watching your child set
a goal, commit to it and accomplish it. That’s not just in the
world of sports, but in all walks of life. But man, I remember
seeing Greg Anthony shed tears when his son Cole Anthony was
drafted by the Orlando Magic, and I know that every other NBA dad
felt the same way when their sons made it. They all know what their
kids had to go through to get to that moment.
I can’t even begin to imagine what Bronny has had to overcome.
I’m pretty sure LeBron knows, just like LeBron knows what he’s had
to do to maintain his status as one of the top players in the
league for so long. If the day comes where those two share an NBA
court — and it’s obviously no guarantee — they will share one of
the most incredible accomplishments the league has ever seen.
I, for sure, am rooting for it to happen.