LeBron James talks about his son facing Mater Dei 17 years after he faced Monarchs

LeBron James and son Bronny watch from the sideline during a game between the Rams and Seattle Seahawks in September 2016.
(Kevin Terrell / Associated Press)

Like father, like son.

History is repeating itself in the LeBron James household.

On Friday night, his son, Bronny, a freshman at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, will play against Santa Ana Mater Dei for the Southern Section Open Division championship at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

It was 17 years ago that LeBron came to Southern California to face Mater Dei at Pauley Pavilion. The Monarchs lost to James and Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary 64-58.

Mater Dei’s coach, Gary McKnight, is still the coach.

“I hope the outcome is better,” said McKnight, the winningest basketball coach in California history. “They beat us but it was in front of a great crowd. It was quite an experience. We did a pretty good job on LeBron, but we were focusing so much on him he was able to hit his teammates with nice passes.”

Asked on Tuesday to comment about his son facing Mater Dei, James said, “It’s crazy. When I was a high school senior, we came out here and played at Pauley, we played against Mater Dei. It was a different situation for us because we felt like they were the same team that was beating up on us year after year after year in AAU basketball. In the eighth grade, we had lost to a lot of those guys that were on that high school team and the national championship (at the Worldwide of Sports AAU National Championship in Orlando, Fla.)

“We came in second, lost by one. When we got the opportunity to play them again my senior year, we had a lot of pent-up frustration, animosity, energy towards them and we wanted to beat them. We felt like if we could beat them my senior year, we could win the national championship, you know, and be the No. 1 team in the country. That was one of the games that we kind of circled on our things. That’s that. My son’s team, they have a great opportunity to play a really good team on Friday and they look forward to that. They’ve got all week to prepare until Friday. The unfortunate part for me, personally, I won’t be here. But best of luck to the Trailblazers, that’s for sure. I don’t mean Portland either, by the way. I know you guys can mix up my words sometimes.”


Staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this article.