Thu. May 23rd, 2019

Larger Than Basketball

A year ago, Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked LeBron James’ First Amendment rights as he voiced his displeasure with the political climate of the United States, specifically referring to President Trump.

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said. “Keep the political comments to yourselves. … Shut up and dribble.”

A year later, it’s apparent that Ingraham did not understand the severity and power that her statement would carry.

And one can only commend James for doing the complete opposite.

James’ decision to not just “shut up and dribble” has led to him being an inspiration for many young black girls and boys across the nation.

James has proven himself to be larger than basketball.

According to Land of Basketball Statistics,  he has established greatness on the court – three-time NBA Champion and Finals MVP, fourth all-time leading scorer and four-time league MVP. But he is also a father, a husband, a son, a friend, an executive producer, actor, investor and most importantly a role model.

 Those descriptions show he is larger than just basketball. 

Countless men, women and children look to James and gain inspiration from his “strive for greatness.” LeBron has proven himself as an all-around individual securing many outside sponsorships and developing his own projects through his production company and sports agency. “The Shop” on HBO gives James and his fellow athletes an opportunity to openly discuss the issues that they face and that our country faces. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy of the many projects James is involved in is his collaboration with the Akron public school system to create the I PROMISE School. 

“We want every kid that’s involved in this school to be inspired [and] come away with something,” James told CNN in an interview. “All kids want to know is that someone cares.” 

An intensive curriculum that focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and provides hands-on and problem-based learning provides opportunities that otherwise would not be available. The I PROMISE School gives them access to this quality education and allows them to strive for greatness.

I PROMISE is opening educational doors black and brown students whose district schools don’t adequately prepare them to compete with their peers from well-funded districts. It, as James stated, shows that their school cares about their future success. 

Would these students be given such an opportunity had James taken Ingraham’s advice? 

If James shut up and dribbled, those students in his hometown would not have the tools to succeed as so many of their peers are.

If James would have shut up and dribbled, many black and brown people would not be able to see someone who looks like them be a multifaceted individual who gives back to his community.  As he continues to venture into new fields breaking the stigma that black men are limited to being professional athletes, rappers or comedians.

Lebron James’ decision not to just “shut up and dribble” shows that young men, specifically black men in the NBA, that they themselves can be and in fact are larger than basketball. 

Perhaps Laura Ingraham did not understand that James’ decision to not shut up and dribble would positively impact the lives of so many.

Or, she, like many other journalists and politicians, forget that athletes are people with opinions, beliefs, and rights who prefer to be heard instead of being told to shut up.

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