LeBron James has replied to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ‘stick to sport’ sentiment by insisting he will never stop using his platform to speak out about political issues such as racial inequality.
Speaking earlier this week AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic criticised James for his involvement in matters beyond his profession, with the Los Angeles Lakers star having been a prominent voice in the battle against police brutality and racial oppression across America and around the world.
“Do what you’re good at. Do the category that you do,” he told UEFA and Discovery+ in Sweden. “I play football because I’m the best at playing football, I’m no politician. If I’d been a politician, I would be doing politics.
“This is the first mistake famous people do when they become famous and come into a certain status. For me it is better to avoid certain topics and do what you’re best at doing, because otherwise it doesn’t look good.”
James was a well-known critic of former US President Donald Trump and in June assisted in the formation of “More Than a Vote”, designed to tackle voter suppression in the Black community.
In 2018 the four-time NBA champion was told to ‘shut up and dribble’ by Fox News host Laura Ingraham in the wake of comments he made regarding President Trump.
As he did back then, James has vowed to continue using his influence to help create change.
“At the end of the day, I will never shut up about things that are wrong,” he said in response to Ibrahimovic’s comments. “I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social justice, racism, voter suppression, things that go on in our community because I was a part of my community at one point and saw the things that were going on, and I know what’s still going on because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that are going through the same thing and they need a voice.
“I’m their voice and I use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that might be going on, not only in my community but in this country and around the world.
“There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand this platform and how powerful my voice is. He can just ask Renee Montgomery if I would have shut up and just dribbled, just seeing that beautiful Black woman today be part of a group – she’s part of the ownership group with the Atlanta Dream.”
James continued by addressing complaints made by Ibrahimovic in 2018 regarding his treatment by the media, which the Swede referred to as “undercover racism”.
“It’s funny he’d say that because I believe in 2018 he was the same guy who said, when he was back in Sweden, talking about the same things, because his last name wasn’t a certain last name, that he felt like it was racism going on when he was out on the pitch,” said James.
“Right? He did say that, right? I thought he said that. I speak from a very educated mind. I’m kinda the wrong guy to actually go at, because I do my homework.”