Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James shares a laugh in warm-ups before taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Thunder won, 148-124. (Leah Klafczynski/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS)

Hensley: Don’t silence the King

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Laura Ingraham can disagree with LeBron James all she wants, but to say he has no right to express his opinion, well, that’s another story.

By Adam Hensley

adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

The last time I heard the phrase “shut up and dribble” was in middle-school basketball.

On Feb. 16, when scrolling through Twitter — a hub of ignorance for many — I came across the now infamous “shut up and dribble” video, courtesy of Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, I almost laughed.

Not because of how funny the video was, but because of how laughable her argument was, bringing me back to the days of middle school, when the rhetoric of “I don’t agree with his/her opinion so he/she should not express it” reigned supreme.

Seconds after beginning her segment by saying “dumb jock alert,” Ingraham played a clip from what she called “a new ESPN podcast” (in fact, it wasn’t an ESPN podcast, it was a video series by Uninterrupted and Uber. It’s hard to tell where media come from, even with the watermarks in the left-hand corner).

If you haven’t seen the original video, here’s a brief synopsis. James and Kevin Durant are in a car with Cari Champion. The three drive around and discuss various topics, ranging from the NBA’s All-Star weekend, pressures they face as top athletes, and politics. Politics, though, are the forbidden fruit for athletes.

James and Durant (but James especially) expressed their displeasure with President Donald Trump. James said that Trump doesn’t understand the people, that he doesn’t “give a f**k about the people.”

Ingraham decided to use her platform to advocate for James’ silence, saying the four-time MVP should “shut up and dribble,” keeping his political opinions to himself.

“This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA,” she said.

James graduated high school (he’s been successful for someone who didn’t go to college, if you ask me) but not every voter can say the same. A high school diploma is not a requirement to vote, and it sure isn’t a requirement to express an opinion.

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she continued (James’ salary for the 2017-18 season is $33 million, but it’s hard to run a quick Google search to get the facts right).

Let’s not remember that Trump, the president of the United States, made his living off real estate and was famous for his television work before entering the Oval Office — he’s a business man.

But so is James. Sure, James makes a chunk of his money by playing basketball (ignoring the businesses investments and his sponsorships), but why throw shade at someone for making money (more than Ingraham could dream of) on their passion, something they excel in?

James has a $1 billion deal with Nike, and, according to Forbes, also partners with Verizon, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors, and is a part of an investment group in Blaze Pizza.

More than $50 million of James’ $86 million yearly earnings coming through those endorsements and business partnerships, but hey, he’s just a “dumb jock.”

Sure, Ingraham can make the argument that it’s unwise to listen to political opinions from those not directly affiliated with politics, but let’s not forget that Fox News had Jon Voight (actor), Kid Rock (musician), Phil Knight (basketball coach), Chuck Norris (actor/badass), Ted Nugent (musician), Clint Eastwood (actor), Curt Schilling (baseball player), Joe Namath (football player), and Gene Simmons (musician) on air to discuss politics.

Ingraham said James’ and Durant’s opinions aren’t viable because no one voted for them in the 2017 election (Ingraham, I doubt you’ll ever see this, but I hate to break it to you — no one voted for you, either).

Trump is the president of this country, whether people like it or not. But to say that someone who doesn’t agree with him should be silenced, well, that’s thinking like a middle schooler.

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