“Shut up and dribble,” professional basketball players were told by a television pundit after a couple dared to delve into politics.
The words uttered by Fox News host Laura Ingraham Friday, Feb. 16, came as a response to Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James and Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant’s criticism’s of U.S. President, Donald Trump.
The NBA superstars were critical of Trump during an episode of “Uninterrupted” a series filmed for and produced by a production company owned by James.
“He doesn’t understand the people… He doesn’t give a f*** about the people,” James said about the president.
The Uninterrupted series is not the first time James has criticized Trump. He has also been quoted before as calling the president a “bum.”
Ingraham said the comments from the superstars was “unintelligible” criticizing both James’ and Durant’s lack of formal education. Ingraham called both athletes “dumb jocks” who “get paid to bounce a ball…so shut up and dribble.”
The backlash from athletes and other media was swift.
“To go after someones lack of education or the way someone pronounces words its immature its childlike,” said Humber College’s women’s basketball coach Ajay Sharma.
Sharma says he encourages his players to speak on political issues.
“As a coach I wish they would engage in issues like that, we bring things like that up with our team,” Sharma said.
He wants his players to be “socially engaged” because when it comes down to it, “there are many more years that they live without the basketball.”
Athletes are regular citizens like anyone else. Often, they are in the spotlight but Durant says it does not mean they cannot comment on political issues.
“I do play basketball, but I am a civilian and I am a citizen of the United States, so my voice is just as loud as hers, I think – or even louder,” Durant said.
James took the high road when he appeared for his NBA All-Star media day. Choosing not to fire back at Ingraham he surprisingly thanked her.
“Thank you, the best thing she did is help me create more awareness,” James said.
“I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice, equality, and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to shut up and dribble,” he said.
“So, thank you, whatever her name is,” James said. “I don’t even know her name.”