He’s been more than a basketball player. LeBron built a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to help underserved children. He’s worked on voter suppression issues. LeBron doesn’t want to be confined to the box of an entertainer and athlete, and he’s encouraged other players to be more and do more as well.
That rubbed AC Milan star and former Los Angeles Galaxy player Zlatan Ibrahimovic the wrong way. Ibrahimovic said this earlier in the week in an interview for UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden (hat tip ESPN):
“[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,” Ibrahimovic said. “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. That is the 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.”
LeBron would have none of that, speaking to reporters after the Lakers win over the Trail Blazers Friday.
“I would never shut up about things that’s wrong. I preach about my people, and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, systematic voter suppression, things that go on in our community,” James said. “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’ll use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that’s going on around this country and around the world.
“There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports because I understand how powerful this platform and my voice is.”
LeBron had done his homework on Ibrahimovic, who three years back spoke of the challenges of growing up in Sweeden the son of a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother.
“He’s the guy who said in Sweden, he was talking about the same things, because his last name wasn’t a (Swedish) last name, he felt like there was some racism going on when he was out on the pitch,” LeBron said. “I speak from a very educated mind. I’m kind of the wrong guy to actually go at because I do my homework.”