By Kendall Gregory
Assistant sports editor
On Feb. 16, Fox News journalist Laura Ingraham attacked LeBron James on live television for his and other professional basketball players’ political opinions. This segment on Fox was called “Jocks on Politics.” She most notably told James to “shut up and dribble.”
“No matter how far you have come as an African American man or female, someone will always try to figure out a way to let them know that you are still beneath them,” said James.
Kevin Durant joined James to do a segment for James’ all-digital sports programming network, UNINTERRUPTED. This network is done through YouTube and features podcasts, documentaries, and videos that are done through the perspectives of professional athletes. The specific series that Durant and James voiced their opinions about the social injustices going on in America is called “Rolling With The Champion.”
Cari Champion conducted the interview with James and Durant as she drove them around Akron, Ohio. Champion is a journalist who has worked for the Tennis Channel and ESPN2’s First Take. She is currently an anchor for SportsCenter.
James’ comments come in the wake of social injustices, especially racism, stemming from The President. James and Durant, both professional basketball players, have used their platform as some of the top professional athletes in America to speak out against these social injustices.
“When you have a platform like this, that’s when you give your two cents and maybe even more than that,” said James.
Durant, a small forward for the Golden State Warriors, agreed that their platforms allow them to speak up and represent those that cannot.
“My voice is a little bit stronger than it was before,” said Durant. “Now I need to start thinking about stuff that empowers and affects people in a great way.”
Ingraham was not a fan of what the two basketball players and Champion had to say. She claims that James’ “ignorant” comments are due to the fact that he left high school a year early in order to join the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously,” said Ingraham. “It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million to bounce a ball.”
Ingraham’s comments came just before the NBA All-Star weekend. Her remarks became one of the biggest storylines associated with James that weekend.
“I wish she had fact-checked because I did graduate high school,” said James in an interview posted by Sports Illustrated. “The best thing she did was to help me create more awareness.”
Despite being a professional basketball player, James still deals with racism. In May of 2017, James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized. Someone had written a racial slur on the front gate to his house.
“I shouldn’t be numb to the racist comments,” said Champion. “I shouldn’t be numb to the behavior.”
The head coach of the San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich was the latest to speak out on Ingraham’s comments. In a pre-game interview on Feb. 25, Popovich explained that no one can tell a person who, what, or when to talk about a topic that matters to them. This came before the Spurs’ matchup with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“He should continue to speak out on social issues,” said Popovich. “He possibly has more impact off the court.”