LeBron James Responds to Zlatan: I'll Never Shut Up About Something That's Wrong

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) warms up before their NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James shot down a suggestion from soccer superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic that he should avoid discussing political topics.

Ibrahimovic said Thursday in an interview with Discovery+ Sport it's a "mistake" when high-profile people like James use their influence to become involved in political debates.

LeBron responded after the Lakers' 102-93 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

"I would never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people, and I preach about equality. Social injustice. Racism. Systematic 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 was going on, and I know what's going on still because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that are going through the same thing, and they need a voice. And I'm their voice. I'm their voice, and I use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that may be going on, not only in my community, but around this country and around the world."

Ibrahimovic, who plays for AC Milan in Italy after a previous stint alongside James in Los Angeles playing for Major League Soccer's Galaxy, is one of the most well-known athletes in the world.

The 39-year-old Swede explained he thinks people should only get involved in things they are "good at":

"[LeBron] is phenomenal at what he's doing, but I don't like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time. Do what you're good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I'm the best at playing football. I don't do politics. If I would be a political politician, I would do politics.

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"That is the big first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best because it doesn't look good."

James disagreed, saying the "stick to sports" mantra doesn't make sense when athletes have the power to encourage positive change. He credited the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown and the NFL's Patrick Mahomes and Alvin Kamara for their efforts in that regard:

"It makes me feel proud to be a part of a generation where our voices are heard and guys are speaking from an educated mindset. But more importantly, when you speak from your heart, it rings bells even louder.

"And we've got a lot of guys speaking from the heart that didn't believe they had a voice at one point in time, or now they're coming into it and they see that they can have a voice and that their voice really matters. That makes me proud."

LeBron's next game comes Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors in Los Angeles.