Bronny James addresses nepotism claims: 'I’ve been dealing with stuff like this my whole life'

EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 02: Bronny James #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks with the media during a press conference at UCLA Health Training Center on July 02, 2024 in El Segundo, California.(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

For the first time, fans heard from Los Angeles Lakers' rookies Bronny James and Dalton Knecht when they were introduced at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo on Tuesday afternoon. 

The two were joined by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and new head coach JJ Redick, who took questions on his role during his introductory press conference last week. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'Championship-caliber team': JJ Redick introduced as Lakers new coach

Knecht, a standout at the University of Tennessee on a squad that went all the way to the Elite 8, was selected by the Lakers at No. 17 in the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft and the next day, James went at No. 55 in the draft's second round. 


Read more about some of the biggest takeaways below.

Bronny James acknowledges nepotism claims 

As expected, several questions were directed toward Bronny as the son of NBA legend LeBron James. The two will become the first father-son duo to play for the same team in league history. 

He handled questions with poise and said the experience since being drafted has "been surreal," and that he’s "extremely grateful for everything." 

The 19-year-old is aware of the nepotism claims and admitted he’s seen some strong responses on social media. He said he knows some people may feel he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to play in the NBA, calling the pressure to perform "amplified."

Bronny James #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

"I’ve been dealing with stuff like this my whole life, but it’s nothing different. It’s more amplified, but I’ll get through it," he said. 

"Bronny has earned this," Redick said. "Bronny has earned this through hard work and for us, prioritizing player development, we view Bronny as ‘case study one.’"

Redick elaborated, "There’s a lot to like about his game and as we build out our player development program holistically, he’s going to have a great opportunity to become an excellent NBA player."

Bronny James said his focus is to get better every day.

"I’m excited to go out there and compete with some great players and to get ready for what’s to come," he said.

On Wednesday, it was reported that he agreed to a four-year deal worth $7.9 million. 

Ready to get to work

Knecht’s responses were more precise as he appeared to be taking it all in. 

"Ever since I touched a basketball, I knew I could do it," he said about growing up with dreams of going to the NBA. He added "just creating my path is something special" and that it's "really cool to write my own story.

"I’m just excited to be here and in the right place to go out and compete." 

Another heartwarming moment came when he shared that he used to watch tape of JJ Redick as an example of how to fight off screens. 

Dalton and Bronny explain their jersey numbers

Dalton Knecht typically wears jersey number 3. However, that will not be happening anytime soon as it’s worn by Lakers superstar, Anthony Davis. 

His last name, which is pronounced like "connect," is embracing his big league jersey number, which will make for some prime marketability. 

"AD got it. Why not do 4?"

As far as Bronny James, jersey number 9 holds a special meaning as a tribute to the late rapper Juice WRLD. 

"Paying homage to him, especially because he passed, is an important thing for me," James said. 

What's next for the rookies?

The two rookies will report to Las Vegas for Summer League, an annual showcase for fans and players. Summer League runs from Friday, July 12 to Monday, July 22.