Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant called Fox News Host Laura Ingraham a racist, for telling NBA star LeBron James to “shut up and dribble.”
“It’s just sad to see people who think that way. It’s weird. It’s not even a place where we should be as humans,” Durant said according to USA Today. “To me, it was racist.”
Durant added that President Donald Trump’s behavior has allowed people to be racists. Durant told the paper that Trump “made it cool for people to kind of speak their truth and kind of show what they’re really about.”
The 2017 NBA champion went on to criticize Ingraham’s freedom of speech even as he extolled his and LeBron James’ right to speak out.
“I do play basketball, but I am a civilian, and I am a citizen of the United States, so my voice is just as loud as hers, I think — or even louder. I can’t focus on that,” Durant added. “I think we’re doing some good things out here, using our platform, and I think what me and LeBron did with Uber (and UNINTERRUPTED) the other day when it came out, I thought it was great. I thought a lot of people enjoyed it. I got so many encouraging texts from it. A lot of people enjoyed what we had to say, a lot more than just politics, which we didn’t even talk about. It’s just life that we talked about. My whole thing is I can’t dwell on that, and I can’t let that distract me from the real goal at hand, which is to continue to encourage and empower people around the world.”
“I’m still going to be a citizen here in the US when I’m done playing basketball, and my voice still doesn’t matter at that point? I don’t play basketball 24 hours a day. I live in this world, just like everybody else,” Durant concluded. “I don’t get what she’s saying, but I know what she’s trying to say.”
The flap was sparked after Ingraham’s February 15 broadcast of her Fox News show, Ingraham Files, where she slammed James for his “barely intelligible – not to mention ungrammatical — take on President Trump.”
Ingraham was provoked by comments James made on the Uninterrupted Rolling With Champion podcast where he said Trump doesn’t “give a f*ck about the people.”
“Well, the climate is hot,” James said on the podcast. “The number-one job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a (expletive) about the people.”
James, who is a frequent critic of the president, exasperated Ingraham who then excoriated the star player on her Thursday show:
All right, we’re gonna create a new banner: ‘This is a dumb jock alert.’ NBA superstar Lebron James is talking politics again, and this time it’s R-rated. Here’s his barely intelligible — not to mention ungrammatical — take on President Trump in a new ESPN podcast.
I’m numb to this commentary, ‘like.’ Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously. Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids. This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. Oh, and LeBron and Kevin, you’re great players, but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.
Laura Ingraham has released a statement denying that there was any racial intent in her remarks:
In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘Shut Up & Sing,’ in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks & 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. I’ve told Robert DeNiro to ‘Shut Up & Act,’ Jimmy Kimmel to ‘Shut Up & Make Us Laugh,’ and just this week told the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to ‘Shut up & Coach.’ 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. Additionally, we stated on my show that these comments came from an ESPN podcast, which was not the case – the content was unaffiliated with ESPN.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.