After a Fox News pundit called LeBron James “ignorant” and told him to “shut up and dribble” after his comments about the president, the Cavaliers star responded during a media session ahead of All-Star Saturday night.
“I will not just shut up and dribble ,” he said, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “So, thank you, whatever her name is ... I get to sit up here and talk about what’s really important”
The same night James’ comments that President Donald Trump doesn’t “give a f*** about the people” were published and picked up on social media, Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham blasted James during a segment of her show. Her comments drew widespread controversy that has lingered on through the weekend.
Laura Ingraham did an entire segment tonight about how LeBron James is dumb.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 16, 2018
LeBron is brilliant. pic.twitter.com/xSZF9HImBJ
“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 a hundred million dollars 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.”
James responded with a photo on his Instagram story on Friday afternoon with the caption: “Smiling through it all! Can’t believe this my life.”
And on Friday night, he posted this to Instagram.
Ingraham’s comments were in response to an appearance by James and Kevin Durant in ESPN anchor Cari Champion’s new miniseries, “Rolling With the Champion.” You should watch the entire video, but James and Durant specifically begin discussing the president at the 5:20 mark.
“The number one job in America ... is someone who doesn’t understand the people, and really don’t give a f--- about the people,” James said. ”It’s not even a surprise when he says something. It’s like, laughable. It’s laughable and it’s scary.”
Ingraham issued the following statement later Friday evening:
“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.”
LeBron has spoken out against Trump before
Remember: LeBron endorsed Hillary Clinton, not Trump, when the two candidates were campaigning in 2016. He even showed up and delivered a speech at a Clinton rally in the Cavaliers’ hometown of Cleveland.
But Trump won that election, not Clinton. And since Trump took office, James has been adamant that Trump doesn’t have the country’s best interest in mind when making decisions.
The travel ban
When Trump first announced a travel ban that would exclude immigration from eight countries, six of which have majority Muslim populations, James came out against the policy while accepting the NAACP’s Jackie Robinson Award in February of 2017.
“I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people,” he said, via The Hollywood Reporter’s Melissa Guthrie. “I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it.”
The Warriors’ White House non-appearance
When the president rescinded a White House invitation that he never actually sent to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, LeBron called him a bum...
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
... then further expanded on his comments later that evening:
When Trump attacked NFL players kneeling during the national anthem
After the president said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem, James said Donald Trump is using sports to divide the country:
“The thing that kind of frustrated me and pissed me off a little bit is the fact that ... he used the sports platform to try to divide us,” James said during Cleveland’s Sept. 25 media day. “Sport and sports is so ... amazing — what sports can do for everyone, no matter the shape, or size, or race, or ethnicity, or religion or whatever,” he said. “And it brings people together like none other.”
He added, “I’m not going to let — while I have this platform — to let one individual, no matter the power, no matter the impact that he should have or she should have, ever use sport as a platform to divide us.”
When Trump said there were “very fine people” on “both sides” after Charlottesville protest
When the president called the group of white supremacists who rallied to protect a Confederate statue “some very fine people,” LeBron also used Twitter to voice his frustrations.
It's sad what's going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that ♂️— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 12, 2017
Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017
LeBron ends event by speaking about Charlottesville. "It's not about the so-called President. It's about love." pic.twitter.com/54IExoR15o— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) August 16, 2017
LeBron's full comments on Charlottesville: pic.twitter.com/FJJCT8rkiN— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) August 16, 2017
As for Ingraham?
Many pointed out the hypocrisy in Ingraham’s comments, as FOX News regularly gives a platform to all kinds of people with all kinds of professions and expertise talking all kinds of politics that — according to their very own rhetoric — have no business commenting on them in the first place.
In fact, Eagles defensive end Chris Long went on a mission to find as many examples as he could.
Now, notice that every celebrity included in Long’s list is white. Ingraham was silent when Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy each repeatedly blasted President Trump for his policies and divisive comments. Van Gundy called the president “brazenly racist” and “misogynistic,” and said his priorities aren’t very presidential. Popovich called the president “a soulless coward” and said his rhetoric has been “disingenuous, cynical, and fake.” Kerr has spoken about Trump seemingly every news cycle.
Ingraham didn’t bring those up in her segment.
And if you reply “stick to sports,” you should probably tune of out Fox News because they’ve got karate guys talking climate change on there. (Which I’m cool with... it’s his right.) Unless it’s just about you needing to feel like you’ve got control of athletes like Lebron.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) February 16, 2018
We don’t know if LeBron will respond to Laura Ingraham’s comments or just let them sit there and fizzle away. But this isn’t the first time a political pundit — specifically a pundit from Fox News — has lashed out at an athlete speaking on the Trump administration. And if what Dwyane Wade wrote on Friday holds any weight, it might not be the last time either.