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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The coach was angry. It was finally impossible that any of the seventh-grade boys who played for his team – most of whom stood between two and 1
Soon he was on his feet, standing and screaming at the edge of one of the 18 provisional basketball courts set up in the high-profile Charlotte Convention Center, before he unfolded himself from the small plastic chair on which he sat next to him. He stood up the scribe's table, sticking out from any other adult nearby that was at least a factor one larger, and instead of e Ines Polo with team tag he wore a black and black snapback and black shorts and a white T-shirt with the inspirational slogan: Pursuit of Greatness Although hidden in his collar, a diamond necklace occasionally caught the light. His Nike sneakers were a white color that was only possible when worn for the first time.
As at various points during this championship game – the tournament's tent – despite the fact that high school students also played, these sneakers bounced dangerously close to the official boundary of the court, which, if crossed, would give his team a technical foul would have brought. But he was furious and shouted at the referee as he gestured to the referee's table in a manner that was instantly recognizable even to the more casual basketball fanatic. It was the same incredulous consternation, his brow furrowed and incredibly long arms outstretched, which he had aimed at his then team-mate JR Smith at the end of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, when Smith missed a chance on a game-winning shot in the reaction from minutes to a meme.
The "coach" was of course LeBron James. While participating in this banal ritual of parental advocacy for his 13-year-old son, LeBron James Jr., and his son's team, the North Coast Blue Chips, hundreds of mocking demons answer them in the air with phones ,
If James is ever able to remain anonymous, it certainly is not an event involving more than a thousand young, social-media-experienced basketball players and their families. Overtime, Slam Ballislife.com and (obviously) Bleacher Report were there to handle the event; Even if we had not been, a large part of the audience tried to stream every match live on the congress center's weak Wi-Fi, capturing everything from LeBron James Jr.'s auditions to the exit of the basketball royal family on a VIP door. When LeBron entered the bathroom after a game, no fewer than 25 phones were at the door, while their owners waited patiently for him to appear after using the facilities. The only thing that was more inevitable than the lenses of the camera was the beeping – most often a sing song "OV-er-rated!"
This love / hate reaction is not new to James, who last provoked emotional reactions in the sports landscape when he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. Within the last month, attempts to commemorate his recent move with murals around the city were disfigured almost immediately after graduation.
Intense investigation is not new for Bronny, since James's eldest son is best known, either. Although only 13 years old, he has been the subject of highlight roles since he was nine years old. Now it is essential for most sports facilities to complete his career in middle school. After unofficially joining Duke with his team-mates Duke last week, you can bet on where Bronny will go in 2023.
"People want to see him playing like LeBron," said 12-year-old Amaricko McKenzie, who had come to court one hour early to see Bronny play for the first time and still had to stand a few rows behind. After seeing so many of Bronny's highlights, McKenzie had thought he might be able to pick up a few new moves – but he acknowledged that the crowd would be discouraging to play in front of them. "He has to live up to these expectations on this stage," McKenzie added.
The experience of being a famous child, as it has grown to cope with the larger-than-life heritage of a parent, is hardly new. To fill in the name LeBron James Jr., whether he played basketball or not, was already a Sisyphus task. However, Bronnys way is unprecedented because of the time he grows up, and especially because of the task he has in front of him to become a professional basketball player – as he tries to live up to his father 's dream same NBA team. He is the most visible face of a new generation of future professional athletes, one for whom the number of role looks count and is just another way to grab the attention of a scout.
Photo by Natalie Weiner
The wildest part of everything? That's just the beginning.
"I'm taking donations: I'll attack LeBron for $ 20 so I can become viral," said a man standing beside a block of mass control an hour before the North Coast Blue Chips on the third day of the five-day tournament participate in the Connecticut Select and address a crowd that only the smallest children can reach. "Man tackles LeBron & # 39 ;," he continued, presumably envisioning the title of the future YouTube clip. For others, the inevitability of footage is a source of comfort, not potential gain: "I'll only watch it on YouTube," said a child who apparently had not reached his growth spike after assessing the challenge of overlooking a series of basketball players.
LeBron finally enters the disguise with a police escort and some futile gestures: a hood pulled over a hat. By the middle of the game – which was getting out of hand in favor of the dominant blue chips – he had both given up holding back and sitting quietly behind the bench. "You've probably risen by 15 points, and I hear he's beginning to behave like a player, Yo, he's here coach !" said Marcus Robinson, the coach of Connecticut Select, and laughed. OK, he's really involved in this squad "According to Xavier Bowman, a member of the sixth grade of Blue Chips and a top five ranked forward in the 2024 class by Naismith National Youth All American, that's not unusual. "He usually gets involved in the tournaments he comes to, especially high-pressure games," said Bowman, who is 12 years old.
The final score could have been 89-32 Blue Chips, but the Select was eagerly pursuing Bronnys mistake anyway. "He was crossed twice!" exclaimed a member of the Connecticut Club, who could not be more than nine years old. Meanwhile, some members of an older Select team called, "Bronny, you only have two points, Bronny, you're shit!"
In truth, Bronny is not yet the dominating star his dad has since joining the NBA: he's not the greatest (currently listed at 5 & # 39; per ESPN) or the fastest or highest rated However, he is able to play otherworldly games that evoke images of him father – whether they are made, fought over three who end up with him, flat on his back, outlet passes, the rich or unusual footwork over the length of the yard, which helps him to cut the traffic for graceful layups.
Then there are the eye-catching movements gone awry: behind-the-back dribbles, which become envelopes, deep shots, The moments when Bronny fell or struck badly are the ones the crowd enjoys the most. "I think some of them also get a bit caught up in the emotion at LeBron's sonrather than just playing the game, "sa Ryan Lutz from Charlotte, watching the team he coached: Chris Paul's team, CP3, who face the blue chips in the championship game of the tournament would. "Want to tell your friends, Yo, I hit LeBron's son three, or do you really want to win?"
Two days later, the Blue Chips played a fiery Arkansas team in a knockout game, and although the Rising Stars were much smaller than the blue chips in both stature and reputation, they remained intending to keep things in place to keep close. In the second half, Bronny slipped to the ball as he suddenly clung to his knee in pain. LeBron jumped up immediately and watched from afar. After helping the younger James on the bench, team members bent down and began rubbing Bronnys knee while wiping his eyes with the top of his jersey. A moment of tenderness quickly dissolved and focused on the game again: LeBron was back in the coachee (it should be noted that the blue chips have two official coaches who refuse James in all cases) and then when he left , Bronny was back – just like his father. Meanwhile, the fans shouted: "Convinced! Convinced!"
"LeBron is on a different platform," said former NBA postman T.J. Ford coaching his Houston-based AAU squad at the tournament. Later in the tournament, the 6th grade T.J. Ford team hit the blue chips for the title of this class. "He has had all this criticism and expectation in his life since he was 16, so he definitely knows how to equip his son with it – most people can not."
In fact, while the Blue Chips are called As the "LeBron Team" – whether it belongs to the older or younger LeBron – it was never clear what assumptions the team must make, even for other members of the same club. "It's the chips, not Bronny's team," a sixth-grader from Blue Chips once said. "Do you see Bronny on her jerseys? We can call it Bronny's team if he scores more than four points."
But the James are the draw; (19659004) "With a father like LeBron, wherever he goes, people know him and cheer him or cheer him," said 72-year-old Charlotte Melvin Phifer, whose grandson she played in the tournament. The former coach had come to the court almost three hours early to watch Bronny play, and he was in the front row, pushing against the barricade with all the children. Phifer had been to all three USBA tournaments attended by the James family and told him that there was something exciting about talking to people about his work in the Charlotte public school system.
The Blue Chips took the tournament title overtime against Paul's team, CP3 (Paul was absent from the tournament despite being at the Peach Jam the previous week). Less than a week later, the highlights already have more than one million views on YouTube. Of course, many parents were convinced that a favorable whistle in favor of the James & # 39; s had gifted the tournament to Bronny and his brother Bryce, who was not playing for a broken hand but whose team was fifth in the tournament
The tournament officials, in turn, admit that an already difficult job is made more difficult by the introduction of a global superstar. "It's a different lot than LeBron is over there," said Brian Woodyard, a referee who called several Blue Chips games. "You can not win: LeBron says it's wrong, and [the other parents] say it's right and vice versa, that's the way it will be."
When LeBron tried to discuss his case about a foul, Woodyard did only what he could: say nothing. The first few times it was a task he was looking forward to – but now? He is happy to go to a fourth-grader court. "I think it's more personal for the parents and the coaches than for the kids," he said. "They want to beat LeBron more than the kids."
However, this zeal is inevitably balanced with the fact that the encounter with LeBron's Jr. and Sr. is a unique experience for most families. Life experience. It is an opportunity that can be increasingly rare given the rapid rise of Bronnys Stern: On Wednesday, a blue chips game in Las Vegas was canceled because of security concerns. And that happened after a game earlier in the day when LeBron's former coach Tyronn Lue and Paul briefly joined LeBron in the stands.
In Charlotte, despite some chaos, the show went on. At the start of the tournament, a team called Atlanta Nets lost to the Blue Chips (66-28), although it would have been hard to see it on the faces of the team's parents and coaches afterwards. "They thought it was going to be a hit, but we started, and I think we totally surprised them," said Bobby Hart, whose 13-year-old son, Jai & Que, was one of the Nets best players. "He had LeBron James Jr. on his butt, so I'm happy, and I've been waiting for that for three years."
But Jai & Que sympathized with Bronny, though he had been beaten by him. "He has a lot of haters, and he has a lot of pressure on him because his dad is so great," he said.
These haters are likely to take the "down" on the question that LeBron James will continue to pursue. Jr: How good can he be? As ubiquitous as the "ov-er-rated" chants, LeBron is Sr.'s story. Compared to a childhood on the verge of homelessness and without a father, Bronny's path looks blissfully clear of obstacles
LeBron stands on the sidelines, training and cheering, urging Bronny toward size as he wished someone had been there to urge him. "When I was younger, I had no dad," James said in a preview for his upcoming HBO show The Shop . "So my whole thing was, when I have a kid, he's not going to be just a junior, I'll do anything this man did not do."
But while LeBron was highly immersed in the national limelight. Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…=view&id=167 At the same time, its grainy highlights on desktop computers Bronny has to live up to the answer to this question in front of millions of people, no matter if they play their games in such large numbers that it is not safe for him. Play or track any of his moves online. While LeBron was the child of Akron overcoming the odds, Bronny is – to his opponents – the chance.
"That was one of the most important games of my life," Jai & Que went on solemnly. "That really meant something to me and everyone on my team.
" We come from a city where no one really knows us. Only a few kids from Douglasville, Georgia play against LeBron James Jr. – fight and fight. It was an unforgettable day. "