LeBron James has a response to Laura Ingraham.
“We will not shut up and dribble,” he tweeted.
That was after Ingraham, a Fox News commentator, criticized James and Kevin Durant for their remarks about President Trump.
And the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown is supporting James.
“I’m not saying that players should go out and say random things, especially if they don’t know anything about it. But I think players, you know, I think they do know more than people give them credit for. I think people do research and people are entitled to their opinions,” said the Celtics second-year player.
“But when an athlete says something, why is it downplayed or why is it considered not OK? So I always challenge that motion and just continue to push that next generation of not only are we athletes, but we can be other things as well.”
Ingraham on Thursday insulted James’ intelligence and said he and fellow basketball star Kevin Durant should not express their political opinions, comments that drew a strong rebuke from James’ former teammate Dwyane Wade.
Ingraham called recent statements James had made about President Donald Trump “barely intelligible,” in a segment on her Fox News show, “The Ingraham Angle.”
Then, after showing a clip featuring James speaking about the president with Durant and the ESPN host Cari Champion, she asked, “Must they run their mouths like that?”
Wade, in a tweet, said that Ingraham’s remarks underscored the way that racist speech has flourished under Trump.
“They use to try and hide it,” said Wade, a close friend and former teammate of James, referring to Ingraham’s comments. “Now the president has given everyone the courage to live their truths.”
James, Durant and Champion are black, and many commentators noted online that the word “they” in her sentence, as well as her comments about James’ intelligence, came across as racist.
Ingraham, a stalwart ally of Trump, belittled James for leaving high school early to enter the NBA and said that it was unwise to “seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred million dollars a year to bounce a ball.”
“You’re great players but no one voted for you,” she concluded, addressing James and Durant. “Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”
Ingraham’s comments referred to a clip of James and Durant criticizing the president from James’ video platform, Uninterrupted. James spoke about his experience as an African-American and then, prompted by Champion, repeated his past criticisms of Trump.
Durant then spoke about how he learned life skills from basketball and compared Trump to a “bad coach.” On her show, Ingraham edited the clip to remove substantial parts of both men’s comments.
“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,” Ingraham said in a statement Friday. “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.” She also cited multiple white entertainers whom she had previously criticized for being politically outspoken.
James has been politically outspoken, particularly in regard to Trump. In September, he called the president a “bum” after Trump said he had withdrawn an invitation for the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House.
After a racial slur was painted on the front gates of his home in Los Angeles last year, James addressed how he continues to struggle with racism, despite his success.
“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is — it’s tough,” James said at the time. “And we got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”