Celtics teammates Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving were among several NBA players who addressed the controversial comments Fox News host Laura Ingraham made during a recent episode of her show, The Ingraham Angle.
“Who’s to say because you’re just a basketball player, or you are a basketball player, who’s to say you can’t chime in on other subjects or other important topics?” Brown questioned during his All-Star Weekend media availability.
Ingraham, a conservative political commentator, made headlines after she told LeBron James to “shut up and dribble” for his “barely intelligible” and “ungrammatical” take on President Donald Trump.
“It’s always unwise to see political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said before telling James and Kevin Durant to keep their thoughts on Trump to themselves.
'Shut up and dribble' — Fox News's Laura Ingraham to LeBron and Kevin Durant after their criticism of President Trump pic.twitter.com/0BlokQDIIl
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 16, 2018
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Brown said in response to her remarks. “I think that’s the kind of notion that’s been occurring over the last 10, 15 years, and I think in this generation, we’re trying to change that.”
Throughout the weekend in Los Angeles, Brown — along with other players, including James — voiced his disagreement with the “stick to sports” notion behind Ingraham’s comments. The 21-year-old forward believes athletes should be allowed to use their platforms for political and social commentary if they are educated and well-versed on the topics they choose to talk about.
“I’m not saying that players should go out and say random things, especially if they don’t know anything about it,” he said during his press conference after the Rising Stars game. “But I think players do know more than people give them credit for. People do research and people are entitled to their own opinions.”
“Why when an athlete says something, why is it downplayed or considered not OK?” he asked. “I’ve always challenged that notion.”
Irving echoed Brown’s sentiment during his media availability ahead of Sunday’s All-Star Game. The Celtics guard offered similar points of emphasis as his teammate, arguing if players feel confident and knowledgeable about certain subject matters, then they shouldn’t be afraid to express their views.
“I think sometimes the way we are put on this platform, I think people have opinions on the way we should be and how we should act and things we should be involved with,” he told reporters.
The five-time All-Star also emphasized the importance of universal respect.
“I think the important thing that gets graced over is that we’re all human beings at the end of the day,” he continued. “It’s pretty tough, finding that balance, but for me, it’s just about respect of all people. That’s something I always try to hammer home. That’s something I was taught as a kid … Everyone has a voice, and I think that it should be well-respected.”