PORTLAND, Ore. — With his parents and sister in attendance at the Moda Center, Bronny James scored 11 points and made key plays in the late stages as a USA Basketball team of the nation’s top high school seniors defeated a World team of international players age 19 or younger, 90-84, in Saturday’s men’s Nike Hoop Summit game.
Taking advantage of a day off for the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Utah Jazz that will determine whether the Lakers secure a playoff spot or must fight for one in the play-in tournament, LeBron James sat courtside with wife Savannah and their daughter, Zhuri.
After Bronny missed both of his 3-point attempts in the first half, his dad offered advice at halftime.
“Basically just saying keep playing my game because he knows what I’m capable of doing,” Bronny told the media postgame. “He just wants to see it out of me.”
The slow start, including a pair of airballs, didn’t get James down.
“I just always try to stay confident in myself, even if I’m missing shots in the beginning of the game like I was,” he said. “I just try to keep my head up and keep playing my game. I know good things are going to come because good things come with the lows. I’m happy with the results of it.”
Playing nearly the entire fourth quarter, James scored seven of his 11 points in the period as the USA team rallied from a one-point deficit to win. He made his only 3-pointer to help key a run and blocked a shot in the closing stages with the U.S. clinging to a four-point lead. James then secured a rebound with 5.4 seconds left and made both free throws for the final margin.
“A great experience,” James said, summing up several days of practices — the last two open to NBA scouts — leading up to Saturday’s game. “High-level basketball, of course. Getting me ready for the next level. I’m always grateful for having that experience and being part of this with a bunch of amazing guys.”
In addition to LeBron James, members of the Golden State Warriors including All-Star Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr were in attendance ahead of their season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
The lone player on the U.S. roster who has yet to commit to a college for the 2023-24 season, James felt he left a good impression of his game with his play this week.
“Of course I can defend at a high level,” he said, asked what he showed. “I’m a smart player. I can make the right plays. I’m not very ball-hungry. I can give it up. Just know that I’m a good player and a good teammate.”