Kendrick Perkins Criticizes ESPN for Hyping LeBron James’ Son Before NBA Draft

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You may not have noticed it, but ESPN is currently involved in a questionable journalistic campaign. No, it’s not their routine promotion of athletes, brands, and sports leagues that have dealings with China, nor their continuous advocacy for various left-wing causes.

That’s standard for their questionable journalism.

This situation, however, isn’t about politics. It strikes at the heart of ESPN’s core mission to present sports news in an honest manner.

In recent weeks, ESPN’s pundits have been insistent in their promotion of LeBron James’ son, Bronny. Why? Because LeBron James’ career is winding down, and one of his dreams is to play alongside his son. Why is ESPN invested in this? Because LeBron James is synonymous with the NBA, and ESPN holds the broadcast rights to the NBA, hoping to capitalize on the potential ratings surge if the two ever play on the same team.

So, what’s the issue?

Bronny James doesn’t have the credentials to play in the NBA. He averaged less than five points per game during his single year of college basketball and was so dissatisfied with his performance that he entered the transfer portal and declared for the draft simultaneously.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers shouts to his son, Bronny James of the USC Trojans, during Bronny's game against the California Golden Bears...

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shouts to his son, Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans, during Bronny’s game against the California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion on February 07, 2024, in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

ESPN’s fervent endorsement of Bronny became so intense that former NBA player Kendrick Perkins felt the need to call out his colleagues during a recent ESPN NBA show.

“Let me say this… we have to stop. We have to stop as the media and everybody else shining a light on Bronny because there are other players more deserving of our attention,” Perkins stated.

“The lottery guys, the ones actually projected to be drafted in the first round. We’re talking about a young man who might not even get drafted or perhaps go late in the second round,” he added.

“We didn’t give this kind of attention to Scottie Pippen’s son. We can’t move the goalposts just because it’s convenient! … Look, I want Bronny to succeed,” Perkins concluded. “But I’m also being realistic.”

Kendrick Perkins is a 15-year NBA veteran. He understands the game. So do NBA scouts. Here’s what some told Yahoo’s Marcus Spears about Bronny James.

“If the Lakers don’t draft him, I don’t see anyone drafting him,” one scout stated. “Teams might want him on a two-way [contract], but I don’t think [James’ agency] Klutch will go for that.”

And the criticism continued.

“Positional athlete,” another scout said. “Doesn’t function as an elite athlete. Tweener stuck between two positions. Should be a point guard based on his size, but he can’t run an offense. He’s limited as an undersized shooting guard because he can’t shoot…”

Can’t shoot. Can’t run an offense. What’s not to like?!

It’s crucial to note that Bronny James is the most discussed NBA prospect at ESPN, despite serious doubts about his NBA viability. The sole reason for this focus is his relationship to his father. While it’s understandable on some level to consider the potential scenario of Bronny and LeBron playing together, there is no legitimate basis for the extensive coverage he is receiving.

The experts in the game do not favor him. The experts in generating clicks do. That says it all.

There exists one possibility in which Bronny might be drafted late in the first round, but that would only happen if LeBron agrees to join the team that drafts him.

As Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports, “Contending teams have discussed drafting Bronny as early as the 20s despite not having cap space to offer LeBron a max contract. Maybe the thought is that James might consider signing for a midlevel exception if they draft his son.”

I wish Bronny all the best. The pressure on him must be enormous. However, ESPN has a responsibility to be truthful with their audience – at least when it comes to sports – and they are failing to demonstrate any integrity or ethics.

Sad.

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