2024-nba-draft-combine:-bronny-james-admits-fear-of-heart-condition-is-‘still-lingering’

2024 NBA Draft Combine: Bronny James admits fear of heart condition is ‘still lingering’

Sports

Bronny James isn’t like the other 77 prospects at the 2024 NBA Draft Combine, for reasons beyond the father who has loomed over his career. Only nine months ago, James’ entire basketball future was in doubt.

James has come a long way since suffering cardiac arrest in July, working his way back to the court and playing 25 games at USC before declaring for the draft. He required medical clearance just for a chance at continuing his career in the NBA.

As much as James would like to move on from that incident, caused by a congenital heart defect, he admitted to reporters at the combine the issue was still in his mind, via Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek:

“It’s still lingering. My parents were a big factor of believing in me and giving me the love and affection that I needed at that time. I still think about everything that could happen but I just love the game so much it just overpowers everything.

“I was set back but that’s not an excuse. I’ve put in so many years of work and I don’t want anyone to think that because I had this issue that I’m lower than everyone else.”

James said, if anything, the situation shows his perseverance:

“It was a tough time for sure but all this work I’ve put in, it’s just really built me into someone that will never give up and it paid off because I put the work into that situation and I’m back to where I want to be.”

It’s been a strong combine for James so far, outside of a 6-foot-1 1/2 height measurement that came well short of his listed 6-4 at USC. He recorded the third-best vertical jump at the combine at 40.5 inches and finished in second place in the 3-point shooting drill with a 19-of-25 performance.

In Day 2, he held his own in a scrimmage, showing off the passing and defensive skills that are his best hope of showing he has a place in the league, though some scouts remain skeptical he’s NBA-ready.

Bronny James has 3 comps for his play style and none is his dad

If James makes it in the NBA, it’ll be as a point guard who is a pest on defense while working primarily as a facilitator on offense. It is unlikely he becomes the kind of superstar LeBron James is, and Bronny seems aware of that with the comparisons he gave himself:

“My goal isn’t really to be ‘that guy.’ There’s a lot of guys in the NBA that have that role already. My current goal is just to fit into a role that a team needs. That’s what’s going to get me drafted and just excelling in that role. I watch a lot of Davion Mitchell, Jrue Holiday, Derrick White. The guys that excel in their role and are locked into what they’re supposed to do.”

All three of those guys are 6-foot-4 or shorter and fit the play style Bronny has presented, though he has a lot of ground to make up to come anywhere close to the level of Holiday and White. Mitchell’s NBA career hasn’t been quite so successful, but he saw far more success than Bronny in college.

Bronny James is anything but a normal NBA Draft prospect. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

Bronny James pumps brakes on playing with LeBron

For years, LeBron has told anyone who has asked that his pre-retirement goal is to play with Bronny. There have been numerous debates on if a contending team should intentionally reach for Bronny if it gives it a chance at signing LeBron. That might not be fair to Bronny as a player, but it’s been the conversation.

Bronny, however, threw some cold water on the idea, saying he was more focused on reaching the league:

“I don’t think I would just get there and it wouldn’t just be like me and my dad. I would be happy about getting to the league instead of me thinking about playing with my dad. But that’s not my mindset at all right now. I’m just trying to put in the work and see where it takes me right now.”

The younger James went on to dismiss the idea a team would draft him just to have a shot at his dad:

“Honestly, I feel like this is a serious business. I don’t think there would be a thought of, ‘I’m just drafting this kid because I’m going to get his dad.’ I don’t think a GM would really allow that. I think I’ve put in the work and if I get drafted it will be because of not only the player but also the person I am.”

In a draft with very little clarity at the top, Bronny’s destination might still be the biggest variable. He just wants the deciding factor to be himself as a player rather than his father, an understandable sentiment. Of course, it’s worth wondering if James would like the answer to that question, and if a 6-1 player with a history of cardiac arrest who averaged 4.8 points per game for a 15-18 USC team would be getting this kind of opportunity if his father wasn’t LeBron James.