Two political heavyweights went head to head during NBA All-Star Weekend.
In the red corner there was Laura Ingraham. The Fox News political pundit and host of “The Ingraham Angle” is one of the leading voices of the Republican Party and a staunch ally of President Donald Trump.
In the blue corner there was LeBron James. Yes, you heard that right. The same LeBron who plays basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just because LeBron’s main profession is pro basketball player doesn’t exclude him from talking or having an opinion about politics. If Fox News can invite rocker Ted Nugent to offer his political commentary, then LeBron should be entitled to voice his thoughts about the state of the country and his true feelings about President Trump.
Like it or not, LeBron is a political heavyweight.
Ingraham recently roiled the basketball world when she commented on her show that LeBron James and Kevin Durant should “shut up and dribble” after the two NBA stars chided Trump. In a video with ESPN’s Cari Champion, LeBron said Trump “really don’t give a f*** about the people.”
Had Ingraham kept the debate all about Trump, then the “shut up and dribble” comment was almost forgivable. She claims it’s a play on her 2003 book “Shut Up & Sing.” If that’s the case, then maybe she needs a new gimmick.
But the insults didn’t stop there. Ingraham also hammered LeBron’s level of intelligence and took shots at the grammatical mistakes in his social media posts. She even poked fun at the fact LeBron never went to college.
“Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids,” Ingraham said. “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.”
First of all, you don’t need a college degree to have a smart political opinion. Second, LeBron could have gone to college but chose not to. Third, there is absolutely nothing wrong taking advice from someone who has donated millions to help underprivileged kids and done more for the youth of America. He’s not some cable news anchor peddling conspiracy theories and kissing the ring of a narcissistic former reality TV star.
Turner sportscaster Ernie Johnson was stunned by the personal nature of Ingraham’s comments, and took it a step further by calling it “condescending” and “disgusting.”
“Everybody is like, ‘You got to believe what I believe and if you don’t I’m going to attack you.’ … You can disagree with what Kevin Durant and LeBron James said, but you don’t have to make it that way,” Johnson said. “It was disgusting to me to watch that response.”
Fellow TNT analyst and two-time NBA champ Kenny Smith was even stronger in his criticism, saying Ingraham’s comments exposed what he felt was her hypocrisy.
“It was one of the dumbest statements I’ve heard,” Smith said.
Ingraham has invited LeBron to her show to talk about their beef, but the NBA superstar has yet to accept the offer.
James initially made a social media post as a retort to Ingraham’s attack, leaving his friends to comment on his behalf. But the outspoken basketball icon took it a step further when he addressed the issue head on during the media session at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
“I will not just shut up and dribble,” James said after All-Star practice. “So, thank you, whatever her name is. … I get to sit up here and talk about what’s really important and how I can help change kids. “It lets me know that everything I’ve been saying is 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 mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
James added: “We know it’s bigger than us. It’s not about us. I’m going to continue to do what I have to do to play this game that I love to play, but this is bigger than me playing the game of basketball.”
Durant also said players should speak out. He previously called Ingraham’s comments “racist.”
“I feel like everybody has a voice, especially with our own platforms, we can use our voices for good,” Durant said. “It’s not just me. I feel like everybody in this room has a voice and it’s getting louder and louder every day, so we’ve got to speak what we believe in, we’ve got to speak our truths, and we’ve got to keep it real out here.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver praised his players for speaking out on issues.
“I’m incredibly proud of our players for using the platform they have as players in the NBA and on social media to speak out on issues that are important to them. And I was proud of LeBron and Kevin’s response to the comments that were made about them. I think even when I hear it even related to the one-and-done issue when people say that the one-and-done players shouldn’t be in college because they don’t care about an education I think is incredibly unfair to them.”
It is extremely disappointing that Laura Ingraham, a person who has built a large audience at Fox News based on her amazing credentials as a lawyer and journalist, would degrade and insult a person of LeBron’s stature with childish cheap shots all because he had a very strong opinion about Trump. LeBron is entitled to discuss immigration policies as much as Ingraham has every right to offer her thoughts on who wins the NBA Finals.