LAS VEGAS — USC freshman Bronny James took the court at T-Mobile Arena donning grey sweats while his teammates warmed up for what turned out to be an 82-69 season-opening win against Kansas State on Monday night.
And as his team played, his father — NBA all-time leading scorer LeBron James — revealed what the family hopes is a path to Bronny being back on the floor.
“Things are going in the right direction with Bronny’s progress,” LeBron James said Monday night in Miami, after he and the Los Angeles Lakers played the Heat. “He’s done with rehab. Every week, he gets to do more and more and more. We have a big — a big — moment at the end of the month to see how we can continue to go forward.
“If he’s cleared, we’ll be not too long away from him being back on the floor and back with his teammates and practicing with the notion of being back on the floor and playing in game situations,” LeBron James added. “Everything’s on the up and up.”
Bronny James is still on his way back from suffering a cardiac arrest during a summer workout. LeBron James said last month that his son had surgery to repair a congenital heart condition that caused the collapse.
“He’s improving,” LeBron James said. “He’s on the right path.”
There is no known timetable for Bronny James’ return to play, though there is hope that it’ll be at some point this season.
Once the Wildcats finished their warmup on the west end of the court, James sauntered to the open space, took a couple of shots near the top of the key, found his place in the corner, and took three more shots from long range before converting a 3-pointer and exiting the court with the 21st-ranked Trojans.
It has long been the dream of LeBron James that one of his sons — Bronny or younger son Bryce, who is also a rising star — would play alongside him in the NBA. Bronny James would be eligible for the 2024 NBA draft if he chose that path.
LeBron James said all the doctors involved in his son’s recovery, along with those at USC, have done “a hell of a job.”
“We’re proud of his progress,” LeBron James said of his son. “We’re proud of his strength.”
LeBron James’ wife, Savannah, and son, Bryce, sat courtside for the game.
“It’s very important to us to show support to all of the kids, and obviously Bronny is not playing tonight, but we wanted to show support to the rest of the young men who have worked all summer to get ready for this point,” Savannah James told The Associated Press during halftime. “We know Bronny is anxious to play, but he will have his comeback soon and then we’ll be here to actually watch him on the floor. But we’re a USC family and we want to make sure that we’re here to support Bronny, as well as the entire team.”
Bronny James sat at the end of the USC bench with freshman forward Brandon Gardner, who was also in grey sweats. James was involved in each huddle during every timeout and stood more than he sat, cheering on teammates during the first half, clapping in tempo while yelling “DE-FENSE!” with the others on the bench.
“Bronny is a terrific basketball player, but he’s even a better person and his family has been so supportive,” USC coach Andy Enfield said after the game. “To have Savannah and his family here, that meant a lot, meant a lot to everybody. … If you watch him or know him throughout his high school career and now into college, all the limelight, he handles it so well and he’s so humble and just a terrific person to coach.”
For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity.