Zlatan Ibrahimovic Doesn't Like When LeBron James, Famous People Talk Politics

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2021

AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks up during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan, at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (Spada/LaPresse via AP)
Spada/Associated Press

For what probably won't be the last time, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has been told the equivalent of "shut up and dribble." 

Football Italia transcribed an interview AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave to UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden. The legendary striker was critical of James' and other celebrities' social activism.

"What he does is phenomenal, but I don't like it when people with a certain 'status' talk about politics," Ibrahimovic said. "Do what you are good at. I play football because I am the best at it. If I was a politician, I'd have gone into politics.

"This is the first mistake that famous people make when they feel like they've arrived. I think it's better to steer clear of these issues and do what you're good at."

While he was a member of the Miami Heat, James honored Trayvon Martin along with his teammates in March 2012. George Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin a month earlier, claiming to have done so in self-defense.

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Since then, James has only become more vocal on social justice issues.

In December 2014, he wore a shirt that read "I Can't Breathe" as a reference to Eric Garner, who died after repeating the words while placed in a chokehold by a member of the New York Police Department. 

The four-time MVP famously called President Donald Trump a "bum" in September 2017 after Trump rescinded a White House invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. His criticism of the then-president continued in February 2018, which prompted Fox News host Laura Ingraham to tell James and Kevin Durant to "shut up and dribble."

Unsurprisingly, the 16-time All-Star didn't follow her advice.

Last summer, he partnered with a number of current and former athletes to form More Than a Vote, which focused on combatting voter suppression and increasing Black voter turnout for the 2020 November election. One cornerstone of the group's efforts was turning NBA arenas and team facilities into voting centers.

Ibrahimovic seemed to imply professional athletes are not equipped to effect social change. However, the efforts of James and many other prominent athletes would contradict that opinion.