LOS ANGELES — “Stick to sports.”
It’s the intellectually lazy argument (and attempt to demean) used when people disagree with the opinion of an athlete (or media member covering athletes). Fox News host Laura Ingraham took that sentiment to new — and for my money racist — level this week. When LeBron James and Kevin Durant did what many other Americans did and took to social media to call out president Donald Trump (taped before but released around the time of Trump’s comments following the horrific school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead), Ingram responded with a rant on her show about how LeBron should “shut up and dribble.”
Boston Celtic forward Jaylen Brown said it’s time to move on from the idea that athletes should only talk about or have interest in their sport.
“That’s a narrative, I don’t know who’s painting it, but it’s been there for a long time, and I think it’s time to move on from it,” Brown said hours before taking the court for the All-Star Friday Rising Stars Challenge. “I think it’s time to move to a new generation where you have a job, and you do your job well, but you also have other interests outside of that, and that’ll be okay. You don’t get backlash from it. Especially if you want to do something where you want to be a musician or a politician, or you want to be something else like a venture capitalist like Steph Curry, anything. I think that’s dope. I think it’s time to move in that direction. I think the time is now.
“The recent comments that been brought up with KD and LeBron chimed in on it, I think that’s a narrative that’s been set for a long time now. It’s on us, as fans, as media, as players, to change that narrative. To make that okay.”
Brown also noted that Ingram picked a poor target in LeBron — the world could use more men who married their high school sweetheart, are devoted fathers, work hard at their job, have never been in legal trouble, and who are not afraid to speak out on issues.
“For me, growing up watching basketball, LeBron’s greatest influence is just being a role model,” Brown said. “Just being an African-American male who’s never been in trouble, you don’t see him in tabloids, you don’t see him involved in anything he shouldn’t be involved in. When he’s talking about something, he’s talking about something of importance. Just seeing that has been fantastic. His team, how he moves, just how he operates — especially in this era where the media and everybody records everything, it’s hard not to fall at some point. I don’t think LeBron ever has, I tip my hat to him. I respect him so much for that.”
LeBron is influencing a generation of young men — not just aspiring basketball players, or athletes (like Olympic skater Nathan Chen) — but men and people in general. It’s the kind of influences we need more of in society, positive ones, and great role models.
And ones who are good at tuning out the people just throwing shade to prop themselves up.