LeBron James sharply responds to criticism that he’s too political

By Matt Fitzgerald
Feb 24, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) looks into the crowd before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James hasn’t been shy about using his immense platform to speak out on key United States social and political issues, much to the ire of outsiders and even fellow star athletes.

A.C. Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently criticized James and others for going public with his politics, and The King clapped back.

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LeBron James: ‘No way I would ever just stick to sports’

When asked about Ibrahimovic’s recent comments after Friday’s victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron hardly hesitated before providing a thoughtful response, per SportsCenter:

Sportsnet featured one of the key quotes from James’ detailed reply:

The NBA made all of its arenas available as voting hubs for the 2020 U.S. election and collaborated with its players for marketing campaigns to promote social change and equality.

In the Orlando bubble where the most recent NBA playoffs took place, the court was decorated with the “Black Lives Matter” and players wore apparel invoking that social movement’s name.

Despite those obvious positives brought about by the NBA, Ibrahimovic recently insisted athletes are better off sticking to what they do best, per theScore:

Beyond how inspirational LeBron has been on the court as he continues pursuing a fifth NBA championship and maintains his status among the league’s best players in his 18th season, he hasn’t shied away from politics.

Although this drew criticism earlier in his career, LeBron’s decision to not simply “shut up and dribble” has proven to be all the more impactful as issues of racism have come more to the forefront. They’ve only escalated following the presidency of Donald Trump, which ultimately resulted in an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

LeBron and the NBA continue to be on the right side of history. While athletes are well within their rights not to get involved in the political arena, as it can be a toxic environment and not one suited for someone who isn’t ready to take on intense scrutiny, perhaps LeBron’s example will encourage others to speak up more.

According to LeBron, Ibrahimovic actually spoke out about feeling he was being discriminated against in Sweden a while back, which made his recent critique of politically engaged athletes all the more puzzling.

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