LeBron James’ new TV series Shut Up and Dribble airs November 3 on Showtime. The series, which chronicles the history of the NBA and its players, also borrows its unusual title from a comment made by FOX News journalist Laura Ingraham.
“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said on February 15. “Keep the political comments to yourselves… Shut up and dribble.” Ingraham’s controversial remarks was made in response to an interview that James had with EPSN broadcaster Cari Champion.
During the interview, James spoke about politics and his attitude towards President Donald Trump. “The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people,” James said, adding that some of Trump’s statements have been “laughable and scary.” Ingraham chastised the NBA star for being “barely intelligible” during the interview and “ungrammatical.” Read her full statement and watch the original clip at the 1:10 mark below.
I’m numb to this commentary – like. Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids—and some adults—take these ignorant comments seriously. Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids: 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 a hundred million dollars 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. So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble.
Ingraham received backlash for her remarks, with many feeling that she was promoting racial stereotypes. “Almost all the stories accused me of ‘dog-whistle’ commentary,” she explained to NPR. “And many claimed that my line that LeBron should ‘shut up and dribble’ was ‘racist’.”
During an interview with Sports Illustrated, James said that Ingraham’s remarks unintentionally helped his point. “I had no idea who she is … until now,” he explained. “So she won in that case… The best thing she did was help me create more awareness” during the ‘best weekend’. I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice. We will definitely not shut up and dribble. … I mean too much to society, too much to the youth, too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out.”
David Nivens, the president and CEO of Showtime Networks, issued a statement that further expanded on the show’s title. “If being a star athlete is inherently a political experience, Shut Up and Dribble tells that complex and dramatic story from the past to the present and from the inside out,” he wrote.
Nivens continued, writing: “LeBron James is one of many competitors whose place in the spotlight has led not to silence but perspective, and he, Maverick Carter and Gotham Chopra have given us an important, insightful docuseries that should bring their fans and fellow citizens to a higher level of discourse, rather than the dismissal satirized in the title.”
Shut Up and Dribble airs at 9 p.m. Eastern on Showtime.