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LeBron James’ Son Bronny Hit with ‘Nepo Baby’ Backlash Despite Medical Clearance Following Health Scare — Critics Still Not Convinced

LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., the elder son of four-time NBA champion LeBron and Savannah James, appears to have cleared another hurdle in his journey toward becoming an NBA player, but he’s already facing “nepo baby” criticism before he’s even hit the big league.

According to ESPN, Bronny James has been medically cleared by the NBA’s Fitness to Play Panel to play after suffering cardiac arrest during a University of Southern California practice in July 2023.

Bronny James, son of LeBron James, was given the greenlight to enter the NBA draft following cardiac arrest.
Bronny James, son of LeBron James, was given the green light to enter the NBA draft following cardiac arrest. (Photo Credit: @BronnyJamesJr / X)

The 19-year-old appeared in 25 games for USC during his freshman year and is expected to participate in five-on-five scrimmages at the pre-draft combine in Chicago beginning on May 14, according to NBADraft.net.

Since at least 2018, LeBron has publicly expressed his hope to one day play with Bronny at the NBA level.

“You want to ask me what would be the greatest achievement of my life? If I was on the court at the same time as my son in the NBA,” James told ESPN ahead of the 2018 NBA Finals. “That would be No. 1 in my lifetime as an NBA player.”

James doubled down on his position during the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James told The Athletic. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

Bronny declared for the NBA draft in April, and his father’s priorities appear to have now changed.

“I’ve had a year with some ups and downs, but all added to growth for me as a man, student, and athlete,” Bronny wrote on Instagram on April 5. “I’ve made the decision to enter the NBA draft while maintaining my college eligibility and will also be entering the NCAA transfer portal.”

Bronny also entered the NCAA transfer portal, which gives him some flexibility. He now has until May 29 to decide whether he will return to college or remain in the NBA Draft. However, rumors are already buzzing that Bronny will be leaving school for pro ball.

“The expectation is that Bronny is gonna stay in the NBA draft in June, and a lot of that is team belief and industry belief,” ESPN reporter Shams Charania said on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

Fans have strong feelings about Bronny entering the league, with the teen being dubbed “Nepo Bronny” by some.

“Nepo baby. Unfortunately, everything I’ve heard about Bronny is that he’s a good kid, but because of his dad, he’s gonna be put somewhere he doesn’t belong,” an X user tweeted.

“Nepotism at its finest. It’s ridiculous that Bronny gets an invite to the NBA combine while Caleb Love, you know, the PAC-12 Player of the Year, does not,” added another.

Others were supportive of the possibility of Bronny and LeBron playing together.

“Bronny is the biggest Nepo-baby in history and I’m here for it. I want to see him and his dad on the court together. It will be so fun to watch and I assume really special for them both,” a fan tweeted.

“Bronny really staying in the draft lol. Nepotism wins,” tweeted another.

“A little funny seeing a crowd who has benefitted significantly from nepotism over several generations have an issue with Bronny receiving similar treatment,” another fan chimed in.

While Bronny’s future is still uncertain, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst threw cold water on the idea that the Lakers will automatically draft him.

“Over the last few months, Rich Paul, who’s the agent for LeBron and Bronny James, has made an effort to part the concept that drafting Bronny James means you’re getting LeBron,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s “Get Up” on May 13. “I do believe LeBron is going to opt out of his contract next month. And I do believe he has several reasons why he wants to do that. And leaving optionality for playing with Bronny is on the list, but I don’t think it’s at the top. I do think he’s going to be back with the Lakers.”

Windhorst did not completely rule out LeBron and Bronny teaming up next season, he warned other teams that drafting the NBA icon’s son no longer means LeBron will necessarily move to that same team.

“I think if the Lakers have an opportunity to draft Bronny James, they will do so,” he said. “Whether that’s with the 55th pick or if they make another deal around the draft where they pick up another pick, I think they will try. I do not think it’s going to be their top priority. And I don’t think the league right now is looking at this as draft Bronny James and you can get LeBron.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski echoed similar sentiments, saying the James family is focusing on what’s best for Bronny, who could end up spending a significant amount of time in the G League next season if he is ultimately drafted.

“The idea of them playing together is not a priority. It’s not foremost, at least any longer, in LeBron James’ mind,” Wojnarowski said. “Rich Paul’s goal here in the pre-draft process for Bronny James is to see if there’s the right developmental organization, a place that can take a young player like Bronny James. … If he does go in the draft, he very likely would spend next year in the G League.”

“That’s the priority for them as a family,” Wojnarowski added. “What’s best for Bronny James? If it ends up them together, that would be great, but I don’t get a sense it’s playing much of any role in LeBron James’ decision on next season.”

Bronny finished his freshman season averaging 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. USC had what many viewed as a disappointing season and failed to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

The fact that Bronny was able to get back on the basketball court just a few months after his health scare is an accomplishment in its own right, but his overall production last season would not typically generate much interest from NBA scouts or personnel executives — and no other prospects in this year’s draft carry the name LeBron James Jr.

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