SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — LeBron James walked into the modest gym at Springfield College right before tipoff to a roar of cheers from fans. More than 4,000 people packed the small venue to see his son Bronny James and Sierra Canyon take on Paul VI Catholic High School (Virginia).
Forty police officers were scattered around the gym and outside the small arena for additional security — a new normal for Sierra Canyon basketball games when NBA royalty shows up.
It was only the second game LeBron has attended this season due to the Lakers’ demanding road schedule. The first game he attended was in Columbus, Ohio, as Sierra Canyon took on James’ alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary. Bronny had the game-winning steal and layup in that game.
LeBron came alone Monday and took his reserved seat flanked by five security guards on the baseline nearest the Sierra Canyon bench. Unlike his larger-than-life demeanor during the game in Columbus, James sat quietly, and showed little emotion during the game.
Bronny played only 13 minutes and took two shots, missing them both. Early in the second half, a fan threw what appeared to be a piece of candy at Bronny from the stands, causing the referee to stop the game and call security over to kick the fan out. LeBron sat 50 feet away shaking his head as any father would do.
“You’d be surprised by all the stuff Bronny has to go through,” teammate Ziaire Williams told Yahoo Sports after the game. “It’s not fair, but he doesn’t let it faze him at all. I’m learning how to be more like that from him and he’s younger than me.”
Game was stopped and security was called out immediately to remove a fan that threw a yellow starburst or a piece of trash at Bronny James in the 3rd quarter.— Krysten Peek (@krystenpeek) January 20, 2020
Be better, fans. pic.twitter.com/WzvmluebpE
Paul VI led by one at halftime and extended the lead in the third quarter thanks to junior guard Trevor Keels’ shooting. Keels finished with 24 points and five boards and knew he and his teammates had to step it up with LeBron in the building.
“I told my teammates we had to come out strong and with a lot of energy,” Keels said. “We’re playing in front of the best player in the world today.”
Duke commit Jeremy Roach was also a problem for the Trailblazers, getting to anywhere he wanted on the court with his speed and making all the right passes in transition. Roach added 16 points and seven assists in a 70-62 win, giving Sierra Canyon its third loss of the season. “When you see LeBron in the building you have to show out. It’s as simple as that,” Roach said after the game.
A frustrated LeBron encouraged his son and the rest of the team during free throws and dead-ball plays throughout the game. “We all definitely heard him on the free-throw line,” Keels said. “He would say things like, ‘We have to get stops, it starts on defense.’ Stuff like that.”
LeBron got up and walked to the bench with 40 seconds left in the game, waiting to say goodbye to his son before heading back to Boston for his own game against the Celtics on Monday night at 7:30.
A quick dab and hug were exchanged before LeBron rushed out. Despite thousands of people looking on, it was just a moment of a father supporting his son after a tough loss.
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