Shut up and dribble. Stick to sports. LeBron James has heard it all before. The latest criticism of the outspoken Lakers forward came from Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who called it a “mistake” for LeBron to speak his mind on politics, social justice and other topics outside the sports landscape. James addressed the AC Milan striker’s comments in his post-game press conference Friday night, asserting that he’ll continue to use his platform for good, regardless of whether Ibrahimovic and others think he should stick to talking hoops.
“I’ll never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social justice, racism, voter suppression, things that go on in our community,” said James, who helped the Lakers end a four-game slide by netting 28 points in Friday’s victory over Portland. “I have a group of 300-plus kids in my school that are going through the same thing. They need a voice and I’m their voice.”
Well-known for his activism and philanthropy, James opened the I Promise School, a public elementary school for at-risk students in his native Akron back in 2018. James has taken it upon himself to be a role model for those students and anyone else who might look up to him.
“I use my voice to continue to shed light on everything that may be going on, not only in my community, but in this country and around the world. There’s no way I will ever just stick to sports,” said James, who will serve as one of two captains, the other being Nets forward Kevin Durant, for next month’s NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta. “I’m kind of the wrong guy to go at, because I do my homework.”
LeBron was quick to point out the hypocrisy of Ibrahimovic’s finger-wagging, remembering the soccer star’s past comments about racism he received due to his Bosnian heritage. “It’s funny he’d say that,” noted James. “He was back in Sweden, talking about the same things. Because his last name wasn’t a certain last name, he felt like there was racism going on when he was out on the pitch.”
In his post-game remarks, James also gave a shout-out to former WNBA star Renee Montgomery, who, along with other investors, purchased a controlling stake in the Atlanta Dream. Their previous owner, former US senator Kelly Loeffler, sold her share in the team after causing a stir for publicly opposing Black Lives Matter.