For the second-straight year, LeBron James’ appearance at an AAU basketball event has led to security fears and his early departure before the game. This time, it even cancelled one of his son’s own contests.
As reported by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel and Sam Gordon of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, LeBron James and his family were escorted out of Liberty High School by security after, “a man wearing a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey began ridiculing the elder James and was denied entrance, according to a event official who declined to give his name,” per Gordon’s reporting.
The brief fracas led to the cancelation of a planned matchup between LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr.’s North Coast Blue Chips and the Chicago-based Mean Streets AAU team. The parent of a Mean Streets player told Thamel that tensions rose when family members of the Chicago team weren’t allowed into the gym after the game had been canceled. Three different school police officers (presumably from Liberty High’s detail) were called in to calm down the situation as refunds of the $15 admission fee were handed out.
“The security got all up in people’s face, and I guess that’s how all the commotion started,” Nicole Bankston, whose son plays for Mean Streets, told Thamel. “I guess after that they took the teams out of the gym because of the commotion. That’s all it was. It wasn’t a fight.”
The hubbub comes a year after LeBron Sr. was forced to stay away from an AAU matchup that featured online prep sensation Zion Williamson facing off against the youngest Ball brother, LaMelo Ball. That contest, which was played at Las Vegas’ Cashman Center. That game was played as part of Adidas’ Uprising event while Wednesday night’s game was part of the Made Hoops tournament.
As for the larger backdrop of what drove Wednesday night’s commotion, there’s little question that the sudden, immense popularity of LeBron James Jr. played a role. While his father may be the world’s greatest and most popular player, Bronny James is already developing a cult-like following of his own, as one unnamed official told Yahoo:
“He’s the hottest thing in youth basketball right now,” said a grassroots official. “All the views and metrics back it up.”