For Pete's Sake

Fox News host on LeBron James’ criticism of Donald Trump: ‘Shut up and dribble’

On Thursday, a video featuring NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant was released on James’ Uninterrupted website and James offered harsh criticism of President Donald Trump.

The video, which was filmed in January, features ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewing James and Durant while driving in an Uber.

Champion asked James about calling President Trump a “bum” on Twitter, and about being a star athlete during a time when the country is politically divided.

“The climate is hot,” said James, the Cleveland Cavaliers star. “The number one job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a (expletive) about the people. When I was growing up, there was like three jobs that you looked (to) for inspiration or you felt like these were the people who could give me light. It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports and then it was, like, whoever was the greatest musician at the time.

“You never thought you could be them, but you could grab inspiration from them. ... I never felt I could be the president of the United States, but I grabbed inspiration from that. And this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time. And while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, as this is not the way.”

Durant, the Golden State star, added: “When you’re talking about leadership and what’s going on in our country, it’s all about leadership. And I learned that playing basketball. I learned a lot of life skills from playing basketball. ... You need to encourage people and that’s what builds a great team, and I feel like our team as a country is not ran by a great coach.”

On Thursday night, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham defended President Trump and offered some harsh words for James and Durant. She noted that James had tried to skip his senior year of high school to join the NBA.

“I’m numb to this commentary. Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids — and some adults — take these ignorant comments seriously,” Ingraham said. “Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids: This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred million dollars a year to bounce a ball. Oh, and LeBron and Kevin: You’re great players but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”

Here is what she said:

Here is the video of James and Durant (note: there is adult language):

UPDATE: Fox News sent The Star a statement from Ingraham on Friday afternoon:

“In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘Shut Up & Sing,’ in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks & 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. I’ve told Robert DeNiro to ‘Shut Up & Act,’ Jimmy Kimmel to ‘Shut Up & Make Us Laugh,’ and just this week told the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to ‘Shut up & Coach.’ 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. Additionally, we stated on my show that these comments came from an ESPN podcast, which was not the case — the content was unaffiliated with ESPN.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff