LeBron James says Bronny's summer league stats don't matter

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers responds to a question from a reporter during training camp for the United States men's basketball team Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

As LeBron James sat in the upper balcony of the practice facility at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where Team USA is holding its training camp ahead of the Summer Olympics, James answered questions as an Olympian and as a Laker.

After he walked down the stairs and was handed a phone with Bronny James’ first summer league bucket cued up, he became a dad.

“Come on, man, that’s tough. That’s tough,” James said with a big grin after pressing play. “Get loose.”

James’ mind was in a couple different places at once Saturday. He’d just wrapped his first practice with Team USA basketball’s version of “The Avengers,” a roster with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and the rest of the NBA’s biggest American stars.

But in San Francisco, James’ son, Bronny, made his pro debut for the Lakers in their game against the Sacramento Kings in the California Classic.

James said people shouldn’t read anything into how Bronny performs this summer in terms as to how it affects his long-term value. Summer basketball, he said, is more about adjusting.

“I just hope for [him to get] his feet wet in the NBA — the pace of the game, the speed of the game, the physicality of the game,” James said. “But what he does in the California Classic and Summer League, it doesn’t matter if he plays well and it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t play well. I just want him to continue to grow. Practices, film sessions, his individual workouts.

“You can’t take anything stat-wise from the California Classic and Summer League and bring it once the season starts. The only thing that matters is him getting better and stacking days.”

James still looked emotional talking about the Lakers drafting his son with the No. 55 pick, a moment, he said, that’s a “dream come true for me.”

“To see my son, to be able to be in the NBA alone, it’s always been a dream of his,” James said. “And for us to be there side by side, a lot of words are lost, to be honest. I don’t know. The kid has worked so hard to get back to this point. So much has happened over the last year with him, to have this happen less than a year from his [cardiac arrest] incident, to be with our friends and family when they announced his name, it was something that was super surreal.”

James was positive about the Lakers’ two other major moves this summer, hiring JJ Redick as the new head coach and drafting Dalton Knecht with the No. 17 pick.

“Dalton, besides Bronny, was my favorite player in college basketball,” James said.

And while the Lakers haven’t made any other moves of note, James didn’t criticize the organization for inaction to date.

“For me personally, my only mindset is to come back and be ready to go to work every single day, no matter who’s there,” he said.

“That’s just me. I’ve always been that. … When it gets to that point, my jersey goes on, my shorts go on the same way, and my work, it never changes. So I look forward to that when it happens.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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