NBA All-Star Game MVP LeBron James says he will not stop speaking out on politics, because he feels a duty to continue his activism due to the oppression NBA players faced in decades past.
James made his latest comments on a recent broadcast of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” according to Sporting News:
I was down courtside, we had a timeout, and all our guys walked to the bench, and I glanced over and I [saw] Dr. J [Julius Erving], I [saw] Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], I [saw] Bill Russell and I [saw] Jerry West, and I just thanked them, I thanked them, and the Big O [Oscar Robertson] is not here and I thank him, too.
We all know what Kareem and Russell and all those guys went through in a time where whatever they said was like, ‘No, you’re not allowed to say that; shut up and dribble.’ And I can’t sit here and allow that to happen because of what they went through.
It would have been the same as telling Jackie Robinson to shut up and slide into home base, or Jesse Owens to shut up and just go triple jump. I can’t do that because of so many people that’s looking up to me, and it’s so many that’s going to come after me, so I’ve got to continue down the path.
James came under fire by Fox News host Laura Ingraham who was so exasperated with the player’s uninformed comments on politics that she told him to “shut up and dribble.”
Ingraham herself came under attack with a list of left-wing entertainers and sports figures calling her a “racist,” including Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Philadelphia Eagles DE Chris Long, actress Ellen Pompeo, actor Michael Rapaport, and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
Laura Ingraham replied to the criticism with 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.