LeBron James responds to Fox News host: “I definitely will not shut up and dribble”

LeBron James speaks to the media during Saturday’s All-Star Game Media Day (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)


LOS ANGELES – Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has a message for those who say athletes should not voice their opinions on politics and social issues.

“We will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that,” he said Saturday.

Reacting to criticism by Fox New host Laura Ingraham, who said it is “unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred-million dollars a year to bounce a ball,” James said he first laughed when he saw the report and then believed Ingraham “did the best thing to help me create more awareness.”

“I had no idea who she was or what she does,” James said at an All-Star Game press conference. “She won in that case, because now I know who she is. For her to go up there and say what she said, I would have had a little more respect for her if she actually wrote those words. She probably said it right off the teleprompter, but that’s OK.

“We’re back to everything I’ve been talking about over the last few years. It lets me know that everything I’ve been saying has been correct, for her to have that type of reaction. 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 meant too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”

James, who played for the Heat from 2010-14 and led Miami to two NBA titles, continued his criticism of President Donald Trump in an Uninterrupted video released this week. James has been one of the league’s strongest voices in the league when it comes to social injustices and Trump’s presidency, along with coaches Steve Kerr of the Warriors and Gregg Popovich of the Spurs.

Golden State’s Kevin Durant, who was in the Uninterrupted video with James, called Ingraham’s comments “racist.” Ingraham said James was unintelligible.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade agreed, saying on social media that Trump has “given everyone the courage to live their truths.”

Heat guard Wayne Ellington – who competed late Saturday in the All-Star 3-point Contest – called Ingraham’s comments “insulting.”

“We’re people; we’re human beings,” Ellington said. “We’re not just athletes, we’re not just basketball players. We have a voice we can speak on anything going on the world, it’s not just about basketball, it’s bigger than basketball.

“When we get put in a box, it’s unfortunate. I think it’s kind of ignorant at the same time.”

James added he wished Ingraham did more “fact-checking” when she said he didn’t finish high school.

“I graduated high school,” he said. “To be an African-American kid and grow up in the inner city with a single-parent mother, and not being financially stable and to make it where I’ve made it today, I think I’ve defeated the odds. I want every kid to know that. And I want everybody to know that the youth, they can do it as well.”

Toronto’s Dwane Casey, who will coach Team LeBron in Sunday’s All-Star Game, had a strong opinion on Ingraham’s comments.

“That’s the worst and most asinine thing that I’ve heard, to say that (about) those young men who are successful in what they do, the best in the world,” Casey said. “It’s like saying the guy who invented the laptop can’t have an opinion about anything. Those guys have earned the right to have an opinion. For whoever said that, it was a very ignorant statement.”

 Ingraham issued a statement through Fox News saying there was “no 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.”

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