LOS ANGELES – LeBron James made it clear over the weekend that he has no intention of keeping his mouth shut and dribbling a basketball.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star said after Saturday’s NBA All-Star Game practice in Los Angeles that he will “talk about what’s really important” when it comes to the state of race relations in America.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized James earlier this week for expressing his opinions, including the quickly infamous “shut up and dribble” comment.
“I will not just shut up and dribble,” James said during his media session.
“So, thank you, whatever her name is. ... I get to sit up here and talk about what’s really important and how I can help change kids.”
James has used his platform and ability to reach people. He has criticized President Donald Trump and did so again in January when he and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant sat down with ESPN and both issued strong comments condemning the leadership in the White House.
Ingraham’s comments -they included telling James to “keep the political commentary to yourself” - were in reference to the James/Durant interview.
James initially put a #wewillnotshutupanddribble hashtag on his Instagram account after hearing Ingraham’s remarks.
“It lets me know that everything I’ve been saying is correct for her to have that type of reaction,” James said of Ingraham. “But we will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that. I mean too much to society, I mean too much to the youth, I mean too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
Durant echoed James’ comment with some of his own on Saturday.
“I feel like everybody has a voice, especially with our own platforms, we can use our voices for good,” Durant said.
Ingraham released a statement Saturday defending her comments.
“In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘Shut Up & Sing,’ in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics,” Ingraham said.
“If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they’re called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks - false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism.”