Laura Ingraham’s Comments on LeBron James Draw Criticism From Dwyane Wade

The Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday insulted LeBron James’s intelligence and said he and fellow basketball star Kevin Durant should not express their political opinions, comments that drew a strong rebuke from Mr. James’s former teammate Dwyane Wade.

Ms. Ingraham called recent statements Mr. James had made about President Trump “barely intelligible” in a segment on her Fox News show, “The Ingraham Angle.”

Then, after showing a clip featuring Mr. James speaking about the president with Mr. Durant and the ESPN host Cari Champion, she asked, “Must they run their mouths like that?”

Mr. Wade, in a tweet, said that Ms. Ingraham’s remarks underscored the way that racist speech has flourished under Mr. Trump.

“They use to try and hide it,” said Mr. Wade, a close friend and former teammate of Mr. James. “Now the president has given everyone the courage to live their truths.”

Mr. James, Mr. Durant and Ms. Champion are black, and many commentators noted online that the word “they” in Ms. Ingraham’s sentence, as well as her comments about Mr. James’s intelligence, came across as racist.

Ms. Ingraham, a stalwart ally of Mr. Trump, belittled Mr. James for leaving high school early to enter the N.B.A. and said that it was unwise to “seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred million dollars a year to bounce a ball.”

“You’re great players but no one voted for you,” she concluded, addressing Mr. James and Mr. Durant. “Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”

Ms. Ingraham’s comments referred to a clip of Mr. James and Mr. Durant criticizing the president from Mr. James’s video platform, Uninterrupted. Mr. James spoke about his experience as an African-American and then, prompted by Ms. Champion, repeated his past criticisms of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Durant then described how he learned life skills from basketball and compared Mr. Trump to a “bad coach.” On her show, Ms. Ingraham edited the clip to remove substantial portions of both men’s comments.

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. James has been politically outspoken, particularly in regard to Mr. Trump. In September, he called the president a “bum” after Mr. Trump said he had withdrawn an invitation for the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House.

After a racial slur was painted on the front gates of his home in Los Angeles last year, Mr. James addressed how he continues to struggle with racism, despite his success.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is — it’s tough,” Mr. James said at the time. “And we got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”

Content originally published on https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/sports/basketball/lebron-laura-ingraham.html by JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH