James made his first public comments Saturday since Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized the Cleveland Cavaliers star for speaking out on the state of race relations in America and his view of the leadership in the White House.
"I will not just shut up and dribble," James said after All-Star practice. "… So, thank you, whatever her name is. … I get to sit up here and talk about what's really important and how I can help change kids."
Ingraham had said James should "keep the political commentary to yourself. Or as someone once said, 'Shut up and dribble.'"
James initially responded with an Instagram post that contained a photo with the words "I am more than an athlete" and was captioned with #wewillnotshutupanddribble.
"It lets me know that everything I've been saying is correct for her to have that type of reaction," James said of?Ingraham. "But we will definitely not shut up and dribble. 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 and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they're in."
Ingraham's "shut up and dribble" comment was in response to James' interview with ESPN's Cari Champion in a piece taped for UNINTERRUPTED in January. During that interview, James and Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant?talked with Champion about this weekend's All-Star Game in Los Angeles and the political climate in the country from their perspectives. They were both also highly critical of President Donald Trump.
Durant, a member of Team LeBron for Sunday's All-Star Game, agreed Saturday that players should speak out.
"I feel like everybody has a voice, especially with our own platforms, we can use our voices for good," Durant said. "It's not just me. I feel like everybody in this room has a voice and it's getting louder and louder every day, so we've got to speak what we believe in, we've got to speak our truths, and we've got to keep it real out here."
Durant spoke to USA Today on Friday about Ingraham's remarks but declined to address them directly Saturday. He did praise James for using his power for good and inspiring other players to feel comfortable being themselves.
On Saturday, Ingraham released a statement defending her comments.
"In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics," Ingraham said. "… If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks — false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism."
Ingraham added, "We stated on my show that these comments came from an ESPN podcast, which was not the case — the content was unaffiliated with ESPN."