Bronny James joins LA Lakers as 55th pick - will join father's team

Years of speculation have finally ended. Bronny James, the eldest son of LA Lakers star LeBron James, indeed has a home in the NBA, on his father’s team.

Bronny James, one of the most highly scrutinized amateur basketball players of the last decade, was taken 55th overall Thursday night in the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. The selection capped 12 long months of guessing about James’ place in the game, which included questions about whether he could compete professionally following a cardiac arrest.

“My dream has always just been to put my name out, make a name for myself, and, of course, get to the NBA,” James said at the NBA Draft Combine in May.

Bronny went pro after just one year at Southern California, where he averaged 4.8 points and 19.3 minutes in 25 games and had trouble with his shooting touch. He came to college as the 17th-best prospect in his high school class, according to consensus rankings, yet even as he struggled he carried the allure of his father’s stated dream to one day play together in the NBA.

That idea had been thrown into serious question one year ago. James collapsed during a USC practice last July with a cardiac arrest caused by a congenital heart defect. He was hospitalized about two days and quickly, the James family said it was confident he would recover. Yet James himself said at the combine last month that the episode had rattled him, with an enduring effect.

“It’s still lingering,” he said. “I feel like my parents were a big factor in believing in me and giving me the love and affection that I needed at that time. But I still think about everything that could happen. I just love the game so much.”

James’ improved health and his presence on the court reinvigorated discussions about whether he was talented enought to be drafted. That conversation in basketball circles and beyond took on a new dimension when LeBron James said two years ago that he wanted to finish his career with father and son together on the same team. “My last year will be played with my son,” LeBron James said as the Lakers visited the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that drafted him at age 18 in 2003.

“Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year,” LeBron James said in February 2022.

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