Zlatan Ibrahimovic defends LeBron James comments: 'Athletes should be athletes'

Chris Cwik
·2-min read
Zlatan Ibrahimovic defends LeBron James comments: 'Athletes should be athletes'
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to engage in a war of words with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Ibrahimovic doubled down on his comments to James on Tuesday, saying "athletes should be athletes."

Ibrahimovic initially got into it with James on Friday. Without saying the specific words, Ibrahimovic essentially told James to stick to sports. James fired back Saturday, saying he would continue to fight for those without a platform. James also pointed out a story in 2018, in which Ibrahimovic spoke about facing racism.

Ibrahimovic responded to those statements Tuesday and basically reiterated his initial stance, according to Reuters.

"Racism and politics are two different things. Athletes unite the world, politics divides it," he said.

"Everyone is welcome in our environment, it doesn't matter where you come from and we are doing everything to bring people together.

"My message? Athletes should be athletes, politicians should be politicians."

It's the same tired trope James has faced numerous times throughout his career. In 2018, James faced criticism from Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who told James he needed to "shut up and dribble." James took the quote and used it as the title of a documentary series he produced on Showtime.

At this point, James doesn't have to respond to this type of criticism. His off-the-court actions can do the heavy lifting.

LeBron James continues to fight against injustice

The "shut up and dribble" moment further inspired James to continue being an activist. He opened the I Promise school in Ohio, and has continued to support that project. In 2019, James presented a $1 million check to help the school build a new gym. In December, James announced he would build a community center in Akron.

Prior to the 2020 election, James founded More Than a Vote, an organization aimed at "combating systemic, racist voter suppression." A number of athletes, including A'ja Wilson, Alvin Kamara, Ben Simmons and Odell Beckham Jr., are involved with the organization.

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