Charles Barkley, Bronny James, LeBron James
Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

NBA legend Charles Barkley has never been shy of expressing his opinion on anything. Following the news that Bronny James declared for the 2024 NBA Draft, Barkley was happy to provide his thoughts on the story.

Bronny, the son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, announced last week that he’s both entering the NCAA transfer portal and declaring for the upcoming NBA Draft. The 19-year-old wants to keep his options open, determining if the better path for his basketball career is staying in college or taking a shot at the professional level.

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A 247 Sports’ four-star recruit, Bronny first had to overcome a medical scare before making it into the Trojans’ rotation. On July 24, 2024, the teenager collapsed during USC’s practice session and went into cardiac arrest. He was later diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, threatening his basketball career.

James made it back to the court on Dec. 10, but he spent the majority of his freshman season as a reserve for the Trojans. He then first entered the transfer portal before announcing his declaration for the 2024 NBA Draft.

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During an appearance on CNN, Barkley was blunt in expressing his desire for Bronny to not play on the same team as LeBron in the NBA though he does think it could happen.

“It’s a possibility. I don’t want him to play with his son, I want his son to develop his own name. If he goes to LeBron’s team, I think it would put too much of a spotlight on him because LeBron is the brightest star of this generation. He’s been amazing, he’s gret. But I think the kid needs to go away by his self so he can grow as a player, so he can grow as a person. because the limelight of playing with LeBron…It’s so bright, you don’t want your kid under that type of pressure. He’s got a long way to go, I hope he has a long NBA career, but I don’t want him to play with LeBron.”

Charles Barkley on Bronny James entering NBA Draft, playing with LeBron James (via CNN.com)
  • Charles Barkley stats (ESPN): 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 54.1% FG

James will go through the pre-draft process to see how NBA teams evaluate him and where he might be drafted in 2024. However, he faces a significant uphill climb just to make it.

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Will Bronny James play with LeBron?

Charles Barkley, LeBron James
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

While Bronny entered 2023 as a projected first-round pick in NBA mock drafts, his draft stock has plummeted since. Despite his NBA bloodlines, size (6-foot-4) and recruiting profile coming out of high school, he’s not even currently projected to be a second-round pick. However, LeBron’s desire to be teammates with his son is clear.

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  • Bronny James stats USC (Fox Sports): 4/8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 36.6% FG

Barkley is also far from the first in sports media to express pushback to Bronny playing in the NBA with LeBron. On a recent The Right Time with Bomani Jones podcast, Bomani Jones made it clear he thinks it shouldn’t happen.

“If he gets to the NBA at all, it’s a victory, because getting to the NBA at all is really, really hard. But then when you look at is as juxtaposed against LeBron trying to get him a mutli-year deal to keep playing. All of it just looks like, man this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any fun for anybody. I’m going to tell you this right now, if I got to the NBA and we’re taking NBA road trips, the last thing I need is my (dad) down the hall.”

Bomani Jones on Bronny James, why he shouldn’t play with LeBron James in the NBA

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With LeBron under contract with Los Angeles for next season, it’s worth noting that the Lakers have a second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Given the low hit rate on second-round picks, it’s possible Los Angeles could use that selection on Bronny to appease LeBron. However, there’s a very real chance Bronny transfers away from USC to a program where he can start next season.

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