Bronny must navigate unwarranted pressure

There is a rift within the Lakers' kingdom. The 55th pick, Bronny James, son of LeBron, has fans up in arms about whether his selection was an unwarranted and unearned display of nepotism or a testament to greatness. For Bronny, the task is steep: navigating away from his father's looming shadow. It appears that he is already feeling the pressure.

Last Tuesday during an introductory press conference at the Lakers training facility the Los Angeles Lakers first-round draft pick, Dalton Knecht, answered questions about how he fits into the scheme newly minted by head coach JJ Redick will deploy, Bronny faced an unescapable barrage of questions about his father, who hovered in the rear of the press conference like a helicopter.

"For sure, there's an amplified amount of pressure," Bronny admitted. "I've already seen it on social media and the internet, talking about how I might not deserve an opportunity. But I've been dealing with stuff like this my whole life, so it's nothing different."

But apples don't fall far from the tree. The elder James entered the league dubbed "The Chosen One" before stepping onto an NBA court, drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan. Bronny will have the unenviable task of shaping the opinions of detractors while proving to his teammates, opponents, fans and himself that he has earned the right to be an NBA player.

"Living by the day, trying not to care about what other people think about me because there's a lot of people that, you know, have something to say," Bronny said. "I'm just taking it by the day and staying sane while doing it."

At his introductory press conference, issues surrounding what was earned versus given to him arose. "Everything has been surreal, I'm just trying to take it all in," Bronny said. "I'm extremely grateful for everything that JJ (Redick, the head coach) and Rob (Pelinka, vice president of basketball operation) has given to me. I've just been extremely excited to get to work."

As quickly as Bronny stated that he was grateful for what he had been given, Redick clarified that nothing had been given to him. "I want to clarify one thing, which is, Rob and I did not give Bronny anything," Redick said. "Bronny has earned this, right? Bronny has earned this through hard work. And for us, prioritizing player development, we view Bronny as like, Case Study 1, because his base level of feel, athleticism, point-of-attack defender, shooting, passing, there's a lot to like about his game. And as we sort of build out our player development program holistically, he's going to have a great opportunity to become an excellent NBA player."

But Bronny didn't ask to be in this position. He didn't ask to be compared to his father. He didn't demand that the Lakers select him. That was the work of his father, who made his desire to play with his son public for the last few years. For Bronny, he just wanted to fulfill his dream of hearing his name called on draft day. He doesn't want any of this. He simply wants to be a great NBA player on his own merits.

"I never really had a thought of, you know, me going to play with my dad," he said. "That wasn't the main focus of mine."

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