Basketball superstar LeBron James has come out fighting after Swedish football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic told him to stay out of politics. According to BBC, Ibrahimovic said in a TV interview that sports figures like James should not get involved as “it doesn’t look good”.
James fired back: “I will never shut up about things that are wrong.”
Pointing out Ibrahimovic’s own past complaints about racism in Sweden, James said: “I’m kinda the wrong guy to actually go at… I do my homework.” The two are megastars in their respective sports.
Ibrahimovic, in an interview with UEFA and Discovery+ in Sweden, criticized the political activism of sports stars. “Do what you’re good at. Do the category that you do. I play football because I’m the best at playing football, I’m no politician. If I’d been a politician, I would be doing politics. This is the first mistake famous people do when they become famous and come into a certain status. For me it is better to avoid certain topics and do what you’re best at doing, because otherwise it doesn’t look good,” Ibrahimovic said in the interview.
James’s response after his LA Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night was unequivocal.
“I would never shut up about things that are wrong,” he said. “I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, systematic voter suppression, things that go on in our community. There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand how powerful this platform and my voice is.”
James also appeared confused at Ibrahimovic’s statements, as the football star has regularly spoken out against racism. James said: “He’s the guy who said in Sweden, he was talking about the same things, because his last name wasn’t a [traditional Swedish] last name, he felt like there was some racism going on when he was out on the pitch.”