On Monday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson came out in support of Lebron James’ activism in the face of criticism from a conservative personality. He told the Associated Press, “No one told David to just play his harp and not stand up for his people. No one told Samson just lift weights and not challenge the Philistines. They told Jackie Robinson, ‘Just play baseball.’ He told them, ‘I’m a man with dignity first.’ They told Dr. King, ‘Go be confined to the pulpit.’ He said, ‘I must speak peace to a troubled world.’ In that tradition, King James, LeBron, his slam dunk for justice is needed. We thank him.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s recently said on air that James should “shut up and dribble” instead of sharing his perspective on President Donald Trump.
While many prominent figures have come to the defense of James by blasting Ingraham, James took a different approach, almost thanking her for comments.
“The best thing she did is going to help me. It’s going to create more awareness, so, I appreciate her for even giving me even more awareness,” James told reporters before the NBA All-Star game Sunday. “For me to sit up here, in the greatest weekend of the NBA All-Star weekend and I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice, equality and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to shut up and dribble.”
“So, thank you, whatever her name is,” James added, “I don’t even know her name, but I appreciate it.”
James prefixed his thanks to Ingraham by explaining why it’s important for him to remain vocal and practice activism.
“I would not just shut up and dribble because I mean too much to my two boys here,” James said. “[I mean too much to] their best friend right here, my daughter that’s at home, and my wife, and my family, and all these other kids who look up to me for inspiration, and try to find a way out.”
Ingraham’s criticism of James derived from a video podcast interview he did with fellow NBA star Kevin Durant for Uninterrupted.com. James and Durant joined TV sportscaster Cari Champion for an Uber ride around James’ hometown in Akron, Ohio, where they discussed social injustices and the current political climate of the U.S.
“The No. 1 job in America, the point of person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people and really doesn’t give a f***k about the people,” James said to Champion and Durant during their ride.
Ingraham comments came a day after Uninterrupted aired its podcast.
“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” Ingraham said in her TV commentary.
Durant told USA Today that Ingraham’s comments were racist but she denied any racial intent in her remarks, stating that such a claim is “an attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism.”