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Young King: LeBron James Jr. is proving greatness runs in the family

The influence that fathers have on the lives of their children is impactful. A father is a child’s first hero, leader, and positive role model. Children look to them for guidance on how to navigate through this crazy world.

When your father is LeBron James, who recently opened up a school for at-risk kids his hometown of Akron, it would be hard not to be inspired by his moves. Especially if your name is LeBron (Bronny) James Jr.

Bronny James Jr. has had the internet on fire as of late. The 13-year old basketball phenom’s buzz now has gained more momentum after accomplishing a hoop dreams milestone: dunking a basketball.

It wasn’t your typical one-hand slam that we see many times over, either. “The Young King” threw up an alley-oop to himself and flushed it home cleanly, in front of a star-studded crowd, featuring Dwayne Wade, Quavo, and Chris Paul.

The Bronny James hype train reached its boiling point July 19th when King James shared a breathtaking fan-made 2K video of him and Bronny both playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. The scary part is that this could all be a reality five years from now.

During an UNINTERRUPTED interview with Rachel Nichols two days before game one of the NBA Finals, LeBron James Jr. spoke about having the opportunity to play with his son. LeBron Sr. said,

“You want to ask me what is the greatest achievement of my life?” If I’m on the same court as my son in the NBA. That would be number one in my lifetime as an NBA player. I’ve thought about it because my son is about to be 14, and he might be able to get in there a little earlier.”

On that same day, Bronny was going through his own trials and tribulations on the court. With his James Sr. present in the stands, Bronny had to withstand an onslaught of “overrated” chants being shouted at him from the crowd, similar to what his father has had to endure throughout his career.

Unphased, the young versatile guard leads his North Coast Blue Chips team to a commanding victory with a 60 point blow out.

The “overrated” chants seemed to be a common theme throughout the USBA National Tournament.

During another game after Bronny suffered a minor injury, the opposition began to yet again howl out overrated. Never trippin’, Bronny responded with saucing up defenders and securing another victory.

While it may seem like Bronny is following in his father’s footsteps, he’s simultaneously creating his own path.

Recently, his North Coast Blue Chips squad was crowned the USBA National Champions and he just finished putting on a show at the Las Vegas classic, winning the Bigfoot Hoops 7th Grade Championship.

In the age of social media, news spreads like wildfire. Anything that Bronny does from here on out is going to be magnified 100 times over.

Fortunately for Bronny, his father is there to mentor him through whatever storm he faces. And for Bronny, he’s learning at a young age that his only competition is with himself.

He’s already cementing his legacy as a young king. It’s going to be fun watching Bronny hone his skills until it’s time for him to takeover the throne.

The future of the NBA? LaMelo Ball and Zion Williamson face off for first time

The hype around high school and AAU basketball has been building for years.

That excitement culminated last night when LaMelo Ball and Zion Williamson faced off in an exhibition game at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas where there were between 3,000 and 4,000 people on hand to watch the prized teenage recruits.

Both of these boys put on a show for the packed out crowd.

Another 1,500 people were left outside waiting to get in, even LeBron James was turned away at the door because of the the amount of people that would lose their shit.

There was some talk about canceling the game due to the crowd size but police and fire department officials eventually decided they could manage the crowd.

NBA players Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, Thon Maker, Eric Gordon, and Lonzo Ball were all in attendance.

“Unreal,” Kansas coach Bill Self told ESPN. “Never seen anything like it.”

The game was broadcasted on the Ballislife website and streamed on Facebook live, drawing over 100,000 viewers.

The play on the court was often sloppy and resembled a pickup game at the playground more than anything. In the end there were several highlight plays and the Big Ballers lost 104-92.


But LaVar Ball, the BBB coach, made sure the fans were entertained.

“They’re gonna have to get a bigger venue,” LaVar said after the game.

“When the Big Baller Brand come to town, better get something big.”

LaVar is known for making hyperbolic statements but this one may ring true.

As AAU continues to grow in popularity and these high school athletes develop enormous profiles on YouTube and Instagram they will continue to draw kids to their games.

“Hope y’all enjoyed the show,” LaVar called out as he entered his van with the team.

Is AAU trash for the game of basketball though?

LaVar Ball teaches his AAU team a terrible lesson in sportsmanship

The world’s most famous helicopter parent is making headlines again but this may have been the strangest stunt LaVar Ball has pulled to date.

After several calls went against his Big Baller Brand team in an AAU basketball game over the weekend, LaVar began ripping into the refs.

The play that pushed him over the edge occurred during a trap on the sideline where it appears a BBB player fouls the ball handler.

Ball disagrees and can be heard saying “that’s not a foul” repeatedly.

In the competitive world of youth basketball, it is common for the coach to work the refs throughout the game, hoping to encourage his team while coaxing the officials into a call that would benefit their team down the line.

But Ball disagreed with the call so vehemently that he yanked his team off the court and they left the gym, leaving many of the players puzzled. It was a playoff game and the BBB team was actually ahead 69-60 at the time of the forfeit.

It would have been interesting if some of the players had resisted their coach’s request and remained on the court. His son LaMelo quickly followed his father’s orders, scooping up his bag and quickly exiting the gym.

Man, LaVar is really losing it.

He’s the leader of 15 and 16-year-old kids, is this the example he wants to set for them?

Maybe a few bad calls went against them, but was it worth forfeiting the game?

All of those kids’ parents have forked over a good deal of money for them to play on that team, I can’t imagine they were too happy.

Come on LaVar, I think you owe everyone involved with the team an apology.

Is AAU ruining basketball? How this generation of NBA stars is different

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) has been around since 1888 and has been a pipeline for young and talented athletes to display their game, competing against elite talent in their region since the Union’s inception.

Players like Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James all came up in the program, which has been more than instrumental in providing a spotlight on players who, without the system would only be stars in their oftentimes humble neighborhoods.

AAU programs offer kids from 12-17 years old around the country an opportunity to be a part of a team, play in weekend basketball tournaments, participate in fundraisers and get exposure to coaches and recruiters.

However, the league has been under harsh criticism, even from its alumni, saying that the fast-paced style has taken the meaning out of winning and the importance of team ball.

One of the harshest critics of the league is current San Francisco Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr who is a former AAU coach himself.

“What troubled me was how much winning is devalued in the AAU structure,” Steve Kerr wrote back in 2012 for “Teams play game after game after game, sometimes winning or losing four times in one day.”

Kerr spoke on the lack of loyalty as well.

“Certain players play for one team in the morning and another one in the afternoon. If mom and dad aren’t happy with their son’s playing time, they switch club teams and stick him on a different one the following week. The process of growing as a team basketball player — learning how to become part of a whole, how to fit into something bigger than oneself — becomes completely lost within the AAU fabric.”

Earl Watson, NBA veteran and current head coach of the Phoenix Suns, differs. He has spent more than a decade giving back to the game, offering guidance to the younger generations, through his AAU program, Earl Watson Elite.

“For me,” Watson said to Bright Side, “it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done, outside of myself, in my entire life, is being involved in grassroots basketball.”

He contends that his AAU program has helped over 200 kids move on to college in just the last six years alone.

“We have three guys at Harvard, five or six guys in the Ivy League. We have banquets for those players with over 4.0 GPAs, and sometimes those guys will play on the Elite team and sometimes we play against other academic players. We kind of mix and match.”

In contrast to other under-18 feeder systems, like baseball, for example, basketball depends heavily on the player’s performance as a unit. The back-to-back weekend games playing tournament after tournament and switching teams all the time promotes a culture that lacks emphasis on winning and losing.

In baseball, it’s all about getting in front of the right coaches and scouts to see what you can do, whether that’s showing off your skills with the glove, throwing arm, or hitting one out of the park. Basketball, however, is heavily predicated on spacing, making the extra pass, cuts etc. The more the team knows one another, the better — but continuity can be hard to establish in the AAU system.

Then there’s the case for a lack of fundamentals. Many coaches and players have been on record heavily criticizing the AAU and how the league’s lack of emphasis on the core basics of the game has translated to the NBA. Kobe is one of these detractors.

Kobe’s first criticisms of the AAU came back in 2015 following a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and their extremely versatile (European) center Marc Gasol saying:

“Teach players the game at an early age and stop treating them like cash cows for everyone to profit off of,” he said. “That’s how you do that. You have to teach them the game. Give them instruction.”

Then again in 2016, in his final season after a loss to the Portland Trailblazers, the Mamba blasted the under-18 league, saying:

“I hate it because it doesn’t teach our players how to play the right way, how to think the game, how to play in combinations of threes….. I think that is just by luck in the generation that I grew up in,” he said. “My generation is when AAU basketball really started becoming s—. I got lucky because I grew up in Europe and everything there was still fundamental, so I learned all the basics.”

Fast forward to 2017 and the retired five-time champion has taken matters into his own hands, coming up with what he is naming the Mamba League, a collaboration with Nike and the L.A. Boys and Girls Club, that aims to teach young athletes the value of fundamentals and playing good team basketball.

But one has to ask, how much blame can you put on AAU? High school basketball still exists, and by large players that participate in the summer tournament league still get their coaching from the same high school and college coaches they always have.

Basketball thought leaders have suggested that it’s the NBA’s age limit that has led to the game’s lack of fundamentals and not solely AAU. Coming into the league at the tender age of 19 with unqualified high school coaches and only one required year of college ball, or a league abroad may have had more of an effect on the league.

So maybe it’s a case of raising the NBA age limit and requiring more attention placed both on fundamentals and the understanding of the game, rather than solely playing AAU ball.

Clearly, something has to be done. When guys like Phil Jackson and Dr. J — pillars in the NBA game — are saying the game lacks fundamentals (see video below) there has to be a finger pointed somewhere. Whether it’s the NBA age limit or the lack of focus in AAU, the basics of the game have seemingly taken a hit.

With Kobe’s new league, which has a creed of centering on the fundamentals, is more established we’ll have a case study to see just how different the product will be.

Until then the “problem” that many NBA legends see exist will still exist. I guess only time will tell.