LeBron James is one of the few athletes who has continuously spoken up about social injustice. It is uncommon to see athletes take a stand on social issues, which is why the NBA superstar has faced a lot of criticism.
Even as many stand in solidarity against some of these societal issues, few are vocal about it. LeBron James has made it part of his life's work to speak up against racism, police brutality, voter suppression, and human rights violations.
Five times LeBron James was criticized over his stance on social injustice
Many have opposed LeBron James for speaking up on social injustice, from local bar owners to fellow athletes and politicians. Despite these confrontations, the NBA superstar continues to comment on social injustice and create programs to help fight against them. Here are five scenarios where the superstar was met with criticism.
#1 Ohio bar owner wants LeBron James "expelled" over tweet
LeBron James took to Twitter after the "guilty" ruling of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. After applauding the ruling, he demanded accountability for the officer who shot a 16-year-old, Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus.
The Ohio bar owner did not like the tweet and decided against airing the NBA in his bar - Linnie's Pub. He took to Facebook to make the announcement, stating that no one should expect to watch games at his bar until LeBron James has been expelled from the NBA.
Criticisms have also come from other individuals and organizations regarding this issue. The National Fraternal Order of Police also spoke against the NBA star, stating that he should educate himself before speaking up.
LeBron James explained that he deleted the tweet because it was being used as a tool to spread more hate. He also asserted that all he craves is accountability and the end of racism.
#2 LeBron James asked to match $175,000 reward by LA County sheriff
Two sheriff's deputies were hospitalized following a shooting in September 2020. Video footage showed a car pulling up next to a parked sheriff's vehicle and opening fire on the deputies.
The LA County Sheriff's Department offered $100,000 reward money to anyone who could provide information that would help apprehend the shooters. Two private donations raised the sum to $175,000 in total.
Alex Villanueva, an LA county sheriff, called on LeBron James to match the $175,000 reward money to help catch the shooter. Alex spoke about how LeBron's outspoken stance regarding violence and officer-related shootings.
LeBron James responded, saying he never invited violence against officers. However, he also stated that he had "zero comment" towards the sheriff but also wants justice for the deputies that got shot.
#3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic asks LeBron James to stay out of politics
Football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic asked LeBron James to stick to basketball and stay out of everything else. The comment by the AC Milan star was in response to LeBron's outspoken nature regarding social injustice.
In an interview, Zlatan stated that he admires LeBron as an athlete but believes it's a mistake to get involved in politics. He was against LeBron using his status to get involved in politics.
LeBron James responded to Zlatan's comment, stating that he has not lost sight of what he needs to do on the court. He further added that if there is a unique opportunity to inspire change off the court, he will take it.
#4 Laura Ingraham asks LeBron James to "shut up and dribble" in 2018
In an interview with ESPN host Cari Champion, LeBron James and Kevin Durant discussed many things, including politics. LeBron talked about how the then President of the United States, Donald Trump, does not understand the people. He said that some of the president's remarks were "laughable and scary."
FOX News' Laura Ingraham swiftly responded to the athlete's comments on her program. She said that it was unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. She asked LeBron to keep the political comments to himself and to "shut up and dribble."
The criticism came in the run-up to the All-Star weekend, which LeBron claimed to be excited about because it created more awareness for his campaign. In an interview, he claimed that the reports made him laugh, but he will never shut up and just dribble.
#5 Donald Trump calls LeBron James racist
LeBron has made several run-ins with Donald Trump since the latter's time as President of the United States of America. The most recent incident came when Trump called James racist and responsible for dividing the United States.
Trump's comments came in response to LeBron James' tweet calling for accountability concerning the Columbus shooting. Like Zlatan, he asked that James focus on basketball and not be solely responsible for the destruction of the NBA, which now has the lowest television rating in its history. LeBron is yet to reply to the former US president.