The Los Angeles Lakers‘ locker room tends to be a tale of two outcomes.

After wins, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, whose lockers are side-by-side, joke and laugh. The topics are wide-ranging. Sometimes it’s football. At other times, wine. Once in a while, they’ll huddle together watching a dunk or an ejection around the league on one of their phones. They often light-heartedly tease each other. 

Recently, Davis ribbed James for pumping his “Mind the Game” podcast after the four-time champion urged reporters in the locker room to check it out. Davis teased him for wanting to boost his viewership. James, in response, essentially asked: Has anything I’ve ever done been unsuccessful? They both chuckled. 

After losses, things look different. 

James hastily dresses while facing his locker. The room is silent. Davis sits slumped in his chair, his feet in an ice bucket, his infamous unibrow furled.

It’s no secret that James controls the tenor of the locker room.

As he should, considering he’s the face of the league and one of the greatest players of all time. He has barely slowed down, even at age 39, averaging 25.7 points last season, while no other player in their 21st year has averaged more than 7.4 points. 

But a new personality is entering the locker room, with the potential to dramatically shift the dynamic.

The Lakers selected James’ son, Bronny, with the 55th pick in the draft on Thursday, making them the first active father-son pairing in league history and teammates to boot, provided James opts in to his $54.1 million player option for next season or signs a new contract with the team, which he undoubtedly will at this point. 

Lakers ‘were bound to’ draft Bronny James at 55th overall

Rookies generally have to earn the attention of the team’s superstars. Sometimes they’re hazed. They have to prove themselves.

Will Bronny be treated like any other rookie?

Or will James advocate for him to get more playing time? Will he try to shield him from the criticism that comes with playing for the Lakers and being his son? Will he mentor him during and after games? Will he joke with him after wins, alongside Davis? Will he demand silence from him after losses?

Imagine what it would be like to share a locker room with your father. But then imagine that your father is LeBron James. It’s a mind-blowing exercise. Will Bronny call his father “dad” during games?

Savannah James, LeBron’s wife and Bronny’s mother, is even sharing inevitable jokes on Instagram about the two playing together.

It could be amazing for both parties and their teammates. Or terrible. 

Not much is known about the father-son dynamic. LeBron and Savannah have tried to shield their three children from the public eye. Bronny has participated in minimal media appearances. 

Here’s what we do know.

We’ve seen videos of them shooting around. We’ve seen them dancing. We saw Bronny and his brother, Bryce, sitting behind their father at a Lakers game, jokingly mocking his mannerisms. 

We saw James’ sons in the Lakers’ locker room celebrating their father becoming the all-time leading scorer in NBA history in February 2023.  “Which one of y’all is gonna try to break my record?” James asked them, flashing a giant grin.

We’ve heard James talk about how proud he was of Bronny after he committed to USC in May 2023. Bronny was set to become the first person in his family to go to college. “Very, very, very, very exciting,” James said.

We watched as James thanked people for their love and prayers after Bronny suffered a cardiac arrest at a USC practice last July. At the time, James posted on X, “We feel you and I’m so grateful.”

And we heard James address the incident publicly for the first time at the Lakers’ media day last October. James dedicated the season to his son. “Nothing else matters besides my family,” James said. 

James, who had long made it clear that his dream was to play alongside Bronny, softened his stance last season after his son’s health scare. He began emphasizing that his family’s priority was for Bronny to do whatever was best for him. 

It didn’t help that Bronny’s lone season at USC was uneventful. 

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 games. He mostly came off the bench. That typically doesn’t apply to NBA-ready players, though he did shine as a perimeter defender. Bronny raised his stock at the NBA Draft Combine, impressing scouts with his 40.5-inch vertical leap and 3-point shooting. 

Bronny James is ‘not ready to be a NBA player’

A few months later, the family’s wish came true at the NBA Draft. 

It’s a sweet story. The elder James has accomplished everything, from living up to the crushing expectations of being the most heralded 18-year-old to enter the NBA to becoming a four-time MVP and four-time NBA champion. 

Even though he attempted to publicly walk back his desire to play alongside Bronny, one thing has been abundantly clear: It was a key component of his bucket list.

You have to wonder, though, whether this was Bronny’s dream. 

At the combine, Bronny didn’t hesitate when asked if he aspired to play alongside his father. “No, never,” he said. “My dream has always just been to put my name out, make a name for myself, and get to the NBA, which is everyone’s end goal that’s here. I never thought about just playing with my dad.”

Bronny has been under a huge amount of pressure his entire life just by being his father’s son. Now, he will share a locker room with his father, which will only intensify the spotlight. Can Bronny be himself? Will he worry that any playing time he gets or acknowledgments he receives is nepotism?

This is unprecedented. This is the stuff of a Hollywood movie. 

Lebron’s and Bronny James’ agent, Rich Paul, made it clear that Bronny wouldn’t sign a two-way contract. But Bronny obviously needs more reps. He needs playing time. He needs time in the G League. Will James be okay with his son spending time away from the Lakers, developing his game?

This may be a beneficial situation for Bronny. He’ll be getting tutored by one of the sharpest basketball minds ever. He won’t have to navigate the pitfalls that most other teenagers in the NBA suffer. He’ll have the most powerful advocate in the game. 

It’s all very interesting. 

This could be great. It could be a disaster. But either way, it’s touching. 

James has realized his ultimate goal. And after fighting for his life a year ago, Bronny’s dream of playing in the NBA is about to come true. 

Right now, everyone is relishing the moment. 

A video surfaced of the moment Bronny’s name was called by commissioner Adam Silver. He and his family and some close friends were at a private dinner in New York. Bronny lowered his head. He fought back tears. “Beyond blessed,” he later wrote in an Instagram story. 

There will be bumps. This will be awkward. It will be weird. 

But you can’t blame James for wanting this. And you can’t blame Bronny for feeling deeply grateful. 

On Wednesday, as players were drafted in the first round and James eagerly anticipated his son’s name being called soon, he took to social media to express his excitement. 

“Pops over here getting emotional as hell just thinking about y’all journey so far!,” James wrote. “Thank you both for allowing me to be your DAD and be a part of your compass through life’s trials and tribulations!”

And after his son was drafted, James posted a series of photos and videos of them on Instagram. 

They’re making history. And regardless of what may come next, the idea of James and his son sharing a locker room is not only unprecedented. 

From a human perspective, it’s something else: Sweet.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more

Source link