Woj fires back at Bronny James nepotism complaints: ‘The NBA is full of nepotism’

As expected, the topic of nepotism came up during the broadcast of the 2024 NBA Draft as the inevitable selection of Bronny James by the Los Angeles Lakers neared. And with Bronny’s agent, Rich Paul, reportedly telling any team trying to draft him that LeBron James’ son will play in Australia if he’s selected against his will, it’s no surprise that some unfamiliar with how common that specific agent tactic is would get upset.

But NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski had a message for viewers watching ESPN at home: Anyone crying about nepotism influencing the Bronny pick should turn their eye to the entire league, not just LeBron James, Bronny and the Lakers.

Woj is right. From Thanasis Antetokounmpo with the Bucks to Chris Smith with the Knicks back in the day, one can argue there are plenty of cases of NBA roster spots throughout history going to a slightly less talented player as a favor to keep their more heralded sibling happy. And it’s not just rosters: NBA coaching staffs are littered with sons of current or former head coaches (or even players’ fathers), and front offices frequently populated with the progeny of previous execs… not to mention, often, the ownerskids as well.

Plus, it’s not like Bronny is totally unqualified. Previous to the cardiac arrest he suffered in 2023, he was widely mocked as a first-round pick, or even a lottery selection. And even after a mostly underwhelming season at USC, our own Ricky O’Donnell still gave the Lakers’ selection of him a B grade:

James’ freshman year at USC started with a terrifying heart episode early in the offseason, and he never really found his footing after that. James is short for a guard at 6’1.5 barefoot, but he has long arms, a strong chest, and a good mentality for a role player. James isn’t a big scorer, but he fights for loose balls, defends bigger players, and spaces the floor as a three-point shooter. He needs to shoot it at a high level to stick in the NBA, but he’s shown enough at the high school level at Sierra Canyon to have a chance to stick.

None of this is to say nepotism is good. It’s just to say that this situation is only exceptional nepotism by NBA standards in one sense: We’ve literally never seen an NBA player good enough, for long enough, to not only play with or against their son, but to be talented enough still to push their team to draft him.

But while LeBron and Bronny are 1/1 in that respect, family members helping each other get jobs in the NBA, either on a roster or in the coaching and executive ranks? That’s nothing new, so we shouldn’t act like it is.