Stop criticizing LeBron James for being a fun dad

LeBron James isn’t taking attention away from Bronny and his AAU teammates. He’s helping them.

Being (arguably) the greatest basketball player in the world now feels like just a small part of LeBron James’ portfolio. When he’s not with the Lakers, James has emerged as an influential Hollywood producer, a leading philanthropist, and, increasingly, one of the most visible fathers in America.

James’ oldest child, LeBron James Jr. — better known as Bronny — is about to start his high school career as a 15-year-old at Los Angeles’ Sierra Canyon this fall. Bronny entered the public eye around this time last year when he created a frenzy at every grassroots (or: “AAU”) game he played in. Dad was there for him the whole way, sitting courtside and was clearly his son’s biggest fan.

That was just the beginning of the Bronny James phenomenon. As Bronny played in a tournament this past weekend in Las Vegas, LeBron Sr. again created a stir in the gym. Like last year, the elder James jumped in a layup line with his son’s U15 team and started throwing down dunks.

Bronny was barely able to dunk this time last year — now he’s doing windmills in warmups and has no problem dunking in games. When he slammed this one in, dad started flexing.

LeBron Sr. even celebrated the best moments from Bronny’s teammates. When two of them hooked up for an alley-oop, LeBron ran onto the court, did a karate kick, lost his shoe, and retreated back to the sideline before play hit the other end. Then he ran on the court once play stopped and dapped up one of the players.

LeBron looks like he’s having the time of his life as a dad. Of course, some people have taken issue with it, saying LeBron is hunting for attention and taking it away from players on the court. What other parent is allowed to do this? We won’t link those bad takes — just take our word for it when we say they aren’t hard to find.

We have only one response.

Let LeBron and Bronny live

LeBron should be applauded for being such an active, caring father to his children. From organizing Taco Tuesdays with his family to losing himself in the moment at Bronny’s games, James seems like the type of supportive father any child would be lucky to have.

James’ own upbringing in Akron is well documented. Raised by a single mother, LeBron grew up in poverty and moved from apartment to apartment and school to school before being recognized for his generational basketball talent as he entered high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s. James didn’t have his father in his life as a kid, but he’s made sure to be the best father possible to his own children.

LeBron has helped boost the profiles of Bronny’s teammates

It isn’t just the #JamesGang — his children Bronny, Bryce, and Zhuri — that LeBron provides guidance and support for. He’s also taken a leading role in the lives of Bronny’s teammates, both on the Nike grassroots team he sponsors Strive for Greatness and on his other team the North Coast Blue Chips. Skyy Clark is a 16-year-old point guard and one of Bronny’s teammates. He recently talked about how involved and invested LeBron was with his team.

Clark praised LeBron for giving pep talks to the Strive For Greatness grassroots team. “We have a little group chat on Instagram, he’s always texting us,” said Clark, a top point guard in the 2022 class. “He doesn’t act super Hollywood. He bonds with us.”

While some have accused James of taking attention away from Bronny and his teammates, the truth is he’s raised the profile of every kid his son plays with. Take Gabe Cupps, a 14-year-old guard on the Blue Chips. He became a star for challenging LeBron to a shoot-off later earlier this year.

LeBron had absolutely nothing gain from shooting against a 14-year-old. He only could have been embarrassed. Instead, he made Cupps something of a viral star, helped him get a quarter million Instagram followers, and responded on his own Instagram.

I got called out by my guy and in my opinion the best shooters(he can do more too) for the Class of 2023 @gcupps23 today. Told him about a certain switch I can hit when needed and he didn’t believe me. Well he found out the hard way! . Still my guy Cupps nevertheless .

There is so much pure joy in the way LeBron interacts with Bronny and his teammates. We know LeBron is a historian of the game. He’s sharing that love with the next generation.

His support isn’t for his own self interest. It’s authentic.

Just look at how the player responded on Twitter if you’re really questioning LeBron’s motives.

LeBron is such an active father it’s almost easy to forget he’s still trying to win an NBA championship this season as he turns 35 years old.

We need more fathers as caring and involved as James, not less.