There was James, pacing the courtroom repeatedly to confirm the scoreboard and its clock. Or peel an apple and dig right into a gallon-sized bag of nuts. or begging, “Come on, referee,” when no reputation was to his liking.
He stood as he instructed his son, who nodded vigorously as he delivered the ball inbounds along the baseline. James stepped into the courtroom at halftime—first to advise the coach of the traveling ball team, Strive for Greatness, then to photograph the left hand of the many men in the packed bleachers. Cell phones were tempting to whip out. to prepare reports.
James, whose contract with the Lakers expires after June, when Broney is set to graduate from Sierra Canyon School, a private school in Chatsworth, Calif., declined to dispute Broney’s plans or his results. What experiences will put them together for basketball? Life on the move is the same for him and his partner, Savannah, who often sits by his side the rest of the week with their 7-year-old daughter, Juri. (James’ younger son, Bryce, 15, also performs at Sierra Canyon.)
Still, as he begins to finalize his next transition, the more than two dozen college and travel-ball coaches, NBA scouts, television-network executives, and kids who perform with and against Broney, expect his recruiters — if not Niti Jr.-far from the best.
Finding the right place for a brony may not be as easy as deciding on a blue blood. For example, Kentucky and Duke already have commitments from their likely future position, the 5-star grad guard. focusing on elite-degree guards from UCLA and Marietta, Ga. It could also feature Isaiah Collier and a stacked depth chart. (UCLA and their completely different hometown faculty, Southern California, confirmed no interest for the rest of the week.)
Hardaway, who watched Brony play at least twice the rest of the week and chatted briefly with James, has used his NBA connections these days to work with Mike Miller, Rasheed Wallace, and Larry Brown. (Brown questions whether he’ll return; the others have left.) Still, Hardaway’s reports are mixed. Emoni Bates, one of several top recruits in the country for the remainder of the season, flopped in Memphis and has since moved to Eastern Michigan.
Michigan coach Juan Howard, whose son Jett will be a freshman this season, spent three seasons with James with the Miami Heat and one separate season with him as an assistant coach. Aside from the Wolverines, though, James—a lifelong Ohio State fan—could be ready to send his son to rival the Buckeyes.
During this year’s open individual evaluation season, which ended this week, the school’s coaches noticed a special side to Broney, who has often had supportive performances on his high school and travel-ball teams. Over the past few months, the Strive for Greatness roster has been steadily churned out, manpower has been hard to come by, and Broni has been left to take charge of its workforce—a task well known in the family.