Is LeBron James less qualified to talk about politics than Curt Schilling?
That seems to be the opinion of Fox News host Laura Ingraham. She took issue with the criticism of President Donald Trump made by the NBA superstar during a recent interview for his new digital media company Uninterrupted with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant and ESPN's Cari Champion.
"[He] really don't give a f– about the people," James said of President Trump. "It's not even a surprise when he says something. It's like laughable. It's laughable, and it's scary."
Durant, who has also been critical of Trump's presidency, agreed with James and added, "You need to empower people, you need to encourage people. And that's what builds a great team. And I feel like our team as a country is not run by a great coach."
Enter Ingraham, who devoted a segment on her Fox News show Thursday night to the basketball stars' comments. Instead of criticizing or arguing with their political opinions (something she is paid to do), Ingraham questioned their basic intelligence.
"Must they run their mouths like that?" Ingraham said. "This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it's always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball."
"Oh, and Lebron and Kevin, you're great players, but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach," Ingraham added. "So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble."
In a statement to Philly.com, Ingraham said there was no racial intent in her remark that James and Durant should "shut up and dribble," noting that she's used a variation of her 2003 book title, "'Shut Up & Sing," to denounce celebrities for criticizing politicians.
"I've told Robert DeNiro to 'Shut Up & Act,' Jimmy Kimmel to 'Shut Up & Make Us Laugh,' and just this week told the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich to 'Shut up & Coach,'" Ingraham said. "If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians."
Regardless, Ingraham's comments didn't sit well with Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long, an outspoken supporter of the NFL's social justice movement and one of three Eagles who have said they won't visit the White House following the team's Super Bowl victory.
Long quickly pointed out that Fox News isn't exactly the outlet that should be questioning whether a basketball player has the right to offer an opinion on politics.
In a Twitter thread that's quickly gone viral, Long pointed out that the network uses a variety of analysts and political commentators who come from a background in entertainment or sports. One such figure is Schilling, the former Phillies pitcher (and perennial Hall of Fame hopeful) who is never told to "stick to sports" when offering his conservative political opinions on the network.
In addition to Schilling, the list of political commentators that Long came up with includes Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight:
Grammy Award-winning musician Kid Rock:
Retired college basketball coach Bobby Knight:
Action movie star Chuck Norris:
Musician Ted Nugent:
And Academy Award-winning director and actor Clint Eastwood:
"The conversation pertains to shutting down athletes speaking on politics or social issues based on some lack of merit, yet giving Fabio a platform," Long said of his Twitter thread. "The point is, what's the prerequisite for who can talk politics?"
Long's followers on Twitter quickly added to his list with suggestions of their own, which included Kiss frontman Gene Simmons (who happens to be in Philadelphia this weekend):
Dog the Bounty Hunter star Duane "Dog" Chapman:
And fashion model Fabio Lanzoni: