'Do what you're good at': Ibrahimovic tells LeBron James to stick to sports

The Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said sportspeople like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James should quit sticking their nose into politics.

Four-time NBA champion James, who Ibrahimovic described as a phenomenal basketball player, has been one of the NBA’s leading voices against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.

A frequent critic of former US president Donald Trump, James also helped form a group aimed at battling voter disenfranchisement in predominantly black communities last year.

“I like him (James) a lot. He’s phenomenal, but I don’t like when people with a status speak about politics. Do what you’re good at doing,” Ibrahimovic told Uef and Discovery+ in Sweden.

“I play football because I’m the best playing football, I’m no politician. If I’d been a politician, I would be doing politics.

“This is the first mistake famous people do when they become famous: for me it is better to avoid certain topics and do what you’re good doing, otherwise you risk doing something wrongly.”

James’ longtime activism on racial justice issues and his criticism of Trump prompted white Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham in 2018 to tell him and fellow black NBA player Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble”.

The comment by Ibrahimovic, whose two-year spell with LA Galaxy overlapped with James’s time in Los Angeles, were criticized by American sprint great Michael Johnson.

“Okay Ibra, based on your position @KingJames is great at basketball and shouldn’t voice his opinion about politics,” Johnson tweeted.

“You’re really good at football so you shouldn’t voice your opinion about LeBron using his platform for good. Or your opinion on anything outside football!”

James’s entry into the social justice arena has been careful and measured over the past decade: a 2012 tweet that declared #WeAreTrayvonMartin; the I CAN’T BREATHE shirt worn before a 2014 game; the opening of a public school in his hometown of Akron.

But the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player winner has taken his activism to new heights since Trump began picking fights with prominent black US athletes to score political points.

With the sports world at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic and amid nationwide unrest over the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, James teamed up with a group of prominent athletes and entertainers to launch More Than a Vote, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization aimed at informing, protecting and turning out African American voters.

“We never told anyone who to vote for or who not to vote for,” he said. “We never said anything about one candidate or another candidate. We just wanted people to exercise their opportunity to vote and create change.

source: theguardian.com