A.C. Milan player Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently turned heads with comments about Los Angeles Lakers player LeBron James and his tendency to discuss politics and social justice issues. The footballer said that James shouldn't "do politics." Now the NBA player has responded bluntly.
"I would never shut up about things that's wrong," James fired back after a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. "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 seeing 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's 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," James continued. "There's no way I will ever just stick to sports because I understand how this platform ... how powerful my voice is."
Ibrahimovic originally made the comments during an interview with UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden. He said that James is "phenomenal" at what he is doing. Though he continued and said that he doesn't like it when people "go and do politics" when they get status.
"Do what you're good at. Do the category you do," Ibrahimovic said. "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. 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."
This back-and-forth with Ibrahimovic is not the first time that James has received criticism for his political comments. Fox News' Laura Ingraham previously told the NBA player to "shut up and dribble" after he and Kevin Durant made critical statements about then-President Donald Trump. She said that both men were "great athletes" but told them to keep the political commentary to themselves.
"I mean too much to society [to 'shut up and dribble']," James told reporters during the 2018 All-Star Media Day. "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."