Athletes’ opinions on what’s happening in the world matters. I’ve written about this topic before when NFL players were receiving backlash for kneeling during the national anthem, and yet again athletes have been attacked for their views.
Laura Ingraham, a Fox News commentator, called out NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant for speaking out against President Donald Trump in a video segment on LeBron’s website “The Undefeated.”
Ingraham said people shouldn’t listen to James and Durant because they get paid $100 million to bounce a ball. She said the two of them should “shut up and dribble.”
But it doesn’t really matter what they do for a living. The real question is, why aren’t they entitled to their own opinion?
Athletes shouldn’t be treated like gods who should be revered for their amazing athletic abilities, but they also shouldn’t be treated like morons who don’t have opinions, feelings, thoughts and beliefs. When athletes and celebrities don’t use their platforms to speak out they get criticized, but James and Durant are trying to use the massive platforms they have for good. LeBron James is one of the most recognizable names and faces in the world; he has the ability and the means to say something important.
Ingraham’s comments, which definitely included racist undertones by insulting the two players’ educations and not mentioning Steve Kerr or Gregg Popovich — two white NBA coaches who have been very vocal about their beliefs — wouldn’t have been made if the two players were supporting Trump. So, what it comes down to is these men don’t get to share their opinions because they differ from her own.
It’s not relevant to my point what James’ and Durant’s opinions of the president are; the two of them have more than proved they’re important role models to young people and inspirational to people who don’t grow up with much. The two of them know this and are determined to use the platform the NBA has provided them with to do what they see as good for the world.
“We will definitely not shut up and dribble,” James said in a press conference. “I will definitely not do that. I mean too much to society, I mean too much to the youth, I mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don’t have a way out. They need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
James grew up in Akron, Ohio, moving often and sometimes sleeping on friends’ couches. He went from that to — in my opinion — the greatest basketball player ever. He has spoken out, acted out and effected change. Children growing up in the Akron city school district have a better chance at going to college because of James: Any student who graduates from Akron city schools with at least a 3.0 GPA will receive a full ride to the University of Akron, paid for by the LeBron James Foundation.
Durant grew up in a similar situation to James in Washington, D.C. and has done similarly good things for his communities. After Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors, he donated $57,000 to a school for homeless kids in Oklahoma City.
Ingraham’s comments not only belittled all the good work James and Durant have done, but she also belittled their worth as humans and the platforms they have earned and continue to use in a way that benefits the least fortunate.
Ingraham’s comments included a factual error about James leaving high school early and a quote about how the country voted for Trump, not James or Durant. But, no one voted for Ingraham for her position and James was the top vote-getter in this year’s NBA All-Star voting, so you decide.