Austin Rivers knows what it’s like to shoulder the pressure of a famous last name. His father, Doc, was an NBA All-Star as a player before winning a championship as head coach of the Boston Celtics in 2008. So Austin is perfectly placed to offer advice to LeBron James Jr., another heir facing high expectations.
Rivers told TMZ Sports that the pressure of living up to the name is legit — and James Jr.’s father has 13 more All-Star awards and two more rings than his.
“Yea, that’s real,” Rivers said. “So I can only imagine having LeBron James as my father. That’s gonna be tough for him.”
James Jr. dunked for the first time this week, throwing down a one-handed slam during warmups before his North Coast Blue Chips played at the Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Classic. The eighth-grader drew a quick reaction from his dad, who crowned him the “Young King.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 30, 2018
After watching the dunk, Rivers was impressed. He noted James Jr. has “great genes” and called the 13-year-old “the real deal.”
“That’s a 10,” he said. “He just threw it up and one-handed it like that? S***. There’s not too many eighth graders I know out here dunking like that. And it’s not like he’s 6-foot-7. He’s got bounce. It’s impressive, man.”
Rivers, who starred at Duke and played for Doc with the Los Angeles Clippers before getting traded to the Washington Wizards in June, had some advice for his fellow scion.
“Just focus on being the best him you can be,” he said. “You know what I mean? Don’t focus on trying to be LeBron James. I didn’t focus on trying to be Doc, I just tried to be myself.”
James recently said that he regrets giving “Bronny” his name and all the added pressure that goes with it. However, it looks like James Jr. has a chance to live up to the hype — and possibly join his father on an NBA court.
“You want to ask me what was the greatest achievement of my life?” James asked in June. “If I am on the same court as my son in the NBA. That would be No. 1 in my lifetime as an NBA player. I’ve thought about it because he’s 14 and he might be able to get in a little early.”