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NBA will never just “shut up and dribble”

Laura Ingraham’s comments on Fox have sparked athletes to speak out.

Best Animated Short winner,

Best Animated Short winner, "Dear Basketball," Kobe Bryant backstage at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony.

Scott Varley | TNS

Scott Varley | TNS

Best Animated Short winner, "Dear Basketball," Kobe Bryant backstage at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony.


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Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award Sunday only two years after playing his final professional basketball game. Who knew that the 17-year-old who skipped college to join the NBA could do so much more than just dribble a basketball?

Less than a month earlier, Fox News host Laura Ingraham went on air and argued that NBA stars should “shut up and dribble” and stick to sports rather than try to intervene with “real issues” in the world. She doubled down on her statement by calling superstars Lebron James’ and Kevin Durant’s comments on political issues ignorant.

The issues in Ingraham’s statement are in the fact that athletes are some of the most influential personalities in society and are generally seen as role models. James and Durant combined have almost 40 million followers on Instagram and about 57 million on Twitter. The use of their platform is crucial to get important messages across, especially in today’s politically and socially divisive climate.

The NBA put out a statement Sept. 7 last year encouraging players to speak their mind on issues that affect society.

None of us operates in a vacuum,” NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said in the statement. “Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players—you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”

The idea that professional athletes shouldn’t have a voice is absurd because many of these players represent a big part of American life. Durant grew up in the nowhere slums of Seat Pleasant, an exurb of Prince George’s County in Washington, while James grew up in a broken home with constant moving around and no recollection of who his father was. Both of these men have had tough upbringings, which is exactly why they should have a voice when it comes to politics and social activism.

They have the power to influence and start movements that many don’t have the platform to do.

So no, NBA players will not “shut up and dribble;” they will continue to advocate for what they believe in and make change.

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