LeBron’s Liberal Politics Overshadow NBA All-Star Game
The basketball star's Trump-trashing and Ingraham-bashing is increasingly putting his own chosen profession in the background
NBA All-Star weekend is one of the most popular occurrences in pro sports because it features such a wide variety of events.
Not only does it feature a basketball game between some of the world’s top players, but it also includes a skills challenge, a three-point contest, a dunk contest, and a celebrity game to boot.
This weekend, however, the festivities garnered even more attention than usual because of a growing feud between one of the league’s top players, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, and Laura Ingraham, host of the Fox News program “The Ingraham Angle” and co-founder of LifeZette.
On Saturday James was front and center as he responded to Ingraham’s critique of James’ own recent vulgar remarks about President Donald Trump.
James first said on Thursday in a widely broadcast video that President Trump “doesn’t give a f*** about people.” Ingraham called him out for those negative remarks about the country’s sitting president and advised him on her Fox News show to leave the political commentary behind and, instead, to “shut up and dribble.” That’s a variation of what she’s long been advising liberal celebrities who speak out about political matters without much information or knowledge, beginning with her book from more than a decade ago, “Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics and the Media Are Subverting America.”
The media naturally asked James about his response to those comments in a recent press conference tied to All-Star weekend.
James told reporters on Saturday, “We will definitely not ‘shut up and dribble.’ I’m definitely not going to do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to the kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and need somebody to lead them out of the situation they’re in.” He went on for some time in that vein.
James actively campaigned for failed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Ohio during the 2016 presidential election.
In 2009, Maxim magazine asked James whom he would “dunk on” if he could dunk on anyone at all. He responded, “If it doesn’t have to be a basketball player, George W. Bush. I would dunk on his a**, break the rim, and shatter the glass.”
If this disdain for the last two Republican presidents is any indication, then James must not care much about potential backlash — since Bush won Ohio twice and Trump won it in 2016.
Kevin Durant, who was involved in James' original anti-Trump rant, accused Ingraham of making a "racist" comment on Thursday, according to USA Today, but the Golden State Warrior did not further weigh in on the issue over the weekend.
This NBA feud with the political right is nothing new. Trump disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a potential White House visit last September after Steph Curry, Durant and coach Steve Kerr said they would skip any potential visit there. Plus, Kerr and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich have been vocal opponents of Trump.
As for the All-Star game itself, it typically is not competitive. This year was a closer game than usual; however, no one gives much of an effort defensively in order to limit the injuries.
Ultimately, Team Lebron eked out a 148-145 win over Team Steph (Curry) in a game that came down to Team Curry's miss of the final shot. James won MVP as he put up 29 points and 10 rebounds.
It seems James is willing to risk irking many potential fans to get his political point across.
Some of the NBA's top players are not fans of President Trump — and it appears as if they want to use their platforms for more than just talking about their chosen profession. James was born, raised, and currently plays in Ohio, a key swing state in U.S. elections. This means the state is highly divided politically, but it seems James is willing to risk irking many potential fans to get his political point across.
That's his choice, of course — but then basketball fans and voters have the choice of how they react to that as well. It will be telling to see how they respond to the increasingly political James in the coming weeks and months.
Ingraham invited LeBron James, the "king," to appear on "her court" and share his views any time. It will also be interesting to see if he accepts that invitation.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.