NBA: Combine

CHICAGO -- Inside a spacious hotel ballroom sitting front and center of an overcrowded press gaggle, Bronny James on Tuesday for the first time in months answered questions from members of the media. About his time at USC. About his preparation to one day join his father in the NBA. About being his own man. And about his time this week in the Windy City participating in the 2024 NBA Draft Combine. 

James bounced around to a number of topics and answered questions from reporters tripping over themselves (physically and literally) to get a word in edgewise. In doing so, he eloquently stepped out from the shadow of being the son of LeBron James, the Lakers superstar and NBA icon, and stepped into the shiny spotlight of being Bronny James by making clear he is his own man on his own mission.

"I would be happy about getting to the league instead of me thinking about playing with my dad," Bronny said. "But, that's not my mindset at all. I'm just trying to put in the work and see where it takes me."

James this week has caught the attention of many for his performance at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, where on Monday he posted a 40.5 inch max standing vertical and finished second among all participants in the 3-point star shooting drill. But it was not what he did Tuesday, but rather what he said, that registered as his most impressive feat.

"My dream has always just been to put my name out, make a name for myself, and of course, you know, get to the NBA, which is everyone's end goal that is here," he said. "And, you know, I never thought about just playing with my dad, but of course he's brought it up a couple times."

Indeed he has. The King himself has mentioned numerous times dating back years that one of his dreams is to play in the NBA with his son. That dream is nearing a reality, with , which is just over one month out.

In what capacity he'd join his father at the highest level is another question. James is not a projected top-60 pick in this year's draft, which means he could go undrafted. But the appeal of selecting him -- and the benefits of what that could entail -- have kept his name atop the draft discussion given the ramifications. If the Lakers picked him, for instance, he'd be his dad's teammate. You can gamble on such things, and yes, the Lakers are the favorite.

Whether that's as a drafted player or as a free agent pickup is the question that's seemingly being answered in realtime. James has had some ups and downs this week in Chicago and showed some flare. No one in a vacuum thinks he's draftable at this point in this class. But this is not a vacuum. This is Bronny James and LeBron James: the most famous draft prospect in the world and the most famous basketball player in the world. Anything can happen. Just know that it's happening to Bronny James, the draft prospect, not Bronny James, LeBron James' son. He wants that made clear.

"I just want to, you know, have people know my name is Bronny James and not be identified as just LeBron James' son," he said.