"I mean too much to society," James tells reporters after NBA All-Star practice.
LeBron James has responded to Fox News personality Laura Ingraham telling him to "shut up and dribble," and threw his own shade at her in the process.
"I will not just shut up and dribble," he said after Saturday's NBA All-Star Game practice in Los Angeles. "So thank you, whatever her name is."
He went on to add that her comments "let me know that everything I've been saying is correct for her to have that type of reaction."
James' immediate response to Ingraham was to put a #wewillnotshutupanddribble hashtag on his Instagram page. He took the opportunity on Saturday to double down on that statement, saying, "We will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that."
The issue was too important for James, who knows he has a big platform from which to be heard. "I mean too much to society, 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," he said.
Kevin Durant, who will be playing on Team LeBron for the All-Star Game, agreed with the power of their platforms. "We can use our voices for good," he said. "It’s not just me. I feel like everybody in this room has a voice and it’s getting louder and louder every day, so we’ve got to speak what we believe in, we’ve got to speak our truths, and we’ve got to keep it real out here."
Ingraham also responded on Saturday, defending her comments from accusations -- including from Durant -- that there was a racial bias to them. "In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush," she said in the statement. "I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics. ....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."
James and Durant first sparked Ingraham's ire with comments they made during an "Uninterrupted" interview filmed in January. "The number one job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn't understand the people and really don't give a f-ck about the people," James said in that interview. "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, that this is not the way. It's not even a surprise when he says something. It's like laughable. It's laughable, and it's scary."
Durant agreed it was about a lack of solid leadership for the country right now. "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."
Ingraham laid into James and Durant on Thursday night for their criticism, calling their commentary "barely intelligible." Ingraham blasted the pair, saying, "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."