There is nothing inherently harmful about placing expectations upon someone. These days, we expect LeBron James to be one of the NBA’s scoring leaders every season because he has proven to us time and time again that he can do it. Without his incredible play on the court, we wouldn’t have those expectations. When a high draft pick is touted as the next big thing, as James was back in 2003, we say this because of what they’ve shown us so far. Simply put: high expectations are the product of your ability at your craft. While this is positive, there is no denying that high and unrealistic expectations can damage a player and open them up to intense scrutiny. Let’s take a look at players such as Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Markelle Fultz, and even Greg Oden. All of those players went first overall in their respective drafts and all of them have been lambasted by the media. Why? Well, because they never lived up to the expectations of a number one pick.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
If someone expects something of you and you don’t deliver, you’re labeled as a disappointment. This is something that translates to work, school, and even interpersonal relationships. When millions of dollars are at stake and tens of millions of eyes watching your every move on the court, the stakes are that much higher. It’s easy to see how a young player can fall victim to the pitfalls of lofty expectations. These players tend to put more pressure on themselves and when they see the media giving them attention, it magnifies that pressure to an extreme level. Luckily for someone like LeBron, he was able to drown out the noise and forge his own path all while redefining expectations in the process.
Now, it’s LeBron’s son Bronny James Jr. who has to go through the very same thing. Bronny’s birth name, the same as LeBron’s, is something James has admitted he regrets. While speaking on The Shop, LeBron admitted that he only recently realized the burden that comes with that name. Essentially if Bronny isn’t as good as LeBron– he’s a failure. Of course, LeBron has been adamant about Bronny forging his own path and being his best self regardless of who his father is. While this is all well and good, it hasn’t stopped pundits and scouts from speculating about Bronny’s future. As of right now, Bronny is a freshman playing for Sierra Canyon High School in California and has been wracking up quite a few highlights. Due to his status as a freshman, he hasn’t been dominating the scoresheet or raking in the minutes. Instead he’s been developing so he can make more of an impact in his sophomore season.
Realistically, Bronny’s development as a high school basketball player shouldn’t be a story. However, it’s been turned into one. ESPN has started broadcasting Sierra Canyon games and his highlights are everywhere on social media. When Bronny scores a limited amount of points, weird adults on the internet are quick to claim Bronny is some sort of bust who will never be as good as his dad. People have become so worked up over Bronny that it’s almost as if the general public has forgotten that he’s still a teenager with a lot to learn. Some pundits have begun debating whether or not Bronny has college potential and if he has a real path to the NBA. At 15, the weight of the world is already being put on his shoulders. The same thing happened to his dad. Except there is one difference. LeBron exceeded expectations which means people are going to assume the same of Bronny, regardless of how fair it is.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Even we at HNHH might be a little bit guilty of the Bronny hype. We’ve certainly written our fair share of articles highlighting some of his best plays. What we’ve always made sure to do, however, is not try and hype him up as the second coming of his father. To do so would be robbing a young kid of his joy for the game. While this may be true, it’s also important to note that no one is immune from criticism. With that being said, there is a difference between an obsession over a 15-year-old’s future and an honest conversation about their mistakes and shortcomings on the court. Unfortunately, the dialogue surrounding Bronny has gone from 0 to 100 and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon.
Over the next couple of years, we’re going to see the Bronny hype skyrocket to unforeseen levels, especially if he continues to excel as a basketball player. If and when Bronny goes to college, the expectations thrust upon him will be so out of this world that they’re going to exceed those placed on LeBron. Even the assumption that he’ll go to college for basketball is an expectation in and of itself. Perhaps Bronny actually likes these expectations. After all, some people thrive in this environment. No one knows what Bronny’s thinking right now but none of it can be easy.
Bronny is simply in an impossible situation. His father’s stature as one of the best to ever play makes him susceptible to these expectations while the frantic media coverage has made him an overnight star. If Bronny were to not live up to expectations, while the fallout would be massive, it wouldn’t be his fault. Moving forward, Bronny will become the perfect example of what high expectations can do to a young athlete. While we wish him the best, we hope everyone can sit back and realize that he’s only a kid.