LeBron James has found himself in the spotlight for comments critical of President Donald Trump, as well as in the crosshairs of Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
Ingraham told James to stop discussing politics publicly, telling James to “shut up and dribble.” Well, you can count Gregg Popovich among those who doesn’t want to stop hearing James weigh in on social and political issues.
“I don’t pick and choose what LeBron should talk about any more than any talking heads who try to pick and choose,” Popovich said Sunday afternoon. “To me, when I heard about that it was just an unbelievable show of arrogance for a talking head to try and tell someone else if they can speak, what they can speak about and when and where to do it. It’s just ludicrous.”
Popovich also praised LeBron for being a positive role model despite his nearly child-star status, calling him a “superhero,” also via Cleveland.com:
“There really is a First Amendment and you can have opinions -- as a coach, as a plumber, as an astrophysicist and a lowly reporter. They can have whatever opinions they want, and that’s what’s amazing about this when you look at this guy, how many millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars he’s given, tens of millions of kids that are inspired by him, it’s kind of like the Black Panther movie. How cool is that for kids to see that, to have that superhero? Well, LeBron’s been that for a long time.
James has responded to Ingraham’s comments by sharing an image of a sign that said “More than an athlete” and spoke on All-Star weekend about how important his voice is at All-Star Media day, via SBNation:
“We will definitely NOT shut up and dribble. I’m definitely not going to do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to the kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and need somebody to lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
Punditry aside, it seems unlikely that James will stop being an active voice in the basketball community and society at large. It doesn’t seem like he’ll lose Popovich’s endorsement any time soon.