Four-time NBA champion, LeBron James has lashed back at AC Milan Striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Friday, after the Swede had attacked James for mixing politics with sports.
James stated this while reacting to comments credited to Ibrahimovic earlier in the week, to the effect that athletes should “stay out” of politics.
Ibrahimovic specifically mentioned LeBron James by name and bashing him (James) for his political activism.
Ibrahimovic had said:,
“(LeBron) is phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time,”
Speaking in an interview for UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden, the outspoken striker said it was a huge “mistake” for athletes to step out of their lane by dabbling into politics.
Continuing, Ibrahimovic said:
“I don’t do politics… That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best because it doesn’t look good”.
James has been an outspoken person asking for a social change in America, focusing mainly on police brutality and racial injustice against African Americans.
He was outspoken about the police shooting of Jacob Blake at Wisconsin in the summer of last year, against Donald Trump, and he played a big role in getting other NBA stars to try and get Black people out to vote during the recent US election that brought Joe Biden to power.
After the Los Angeles Lakers’ 102-93 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, James said;
“I am kind of the wrong guy to go at because I do my homework,”
However, in a swift reaction, James rose up to say, “winning championships is one thing but inspiring, empowering people and bringing Americans together is just as rewarding”.
“At the end of the day, I would never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, voter suppression. Things that go on in our community”.
“There is no way I would ever just stick to sports. I know how powerful my voice is.”
According to The Guardian, James said he prefers to think he is the start of something much bigger in sports.
“You see young guys speaking about things they feel is unjust. For a long time, we heard, ‘as athletes you should be thankful to be able to throw a ball, dribble a ball, swing a baseball bat. You shouldn’t be able to speak about anything else.’, James was quoted as saying.
“That is not the case anymore. It won’t be the case for a long time.
James helped in creating the “More Than a Vote organization”, which enhanced voter turnout in Black areas. The group organized more than 40,000 volunteers to work at the polls during the November federal election.