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Fox News host says ‘stick to sports’ advice wasn’t racially charged

Dwyane Wade and Kyle Long defended LeBron James. | Courtesy of Associated Press

At least three professional athletes — including Dwyane Wade and Kyle Long — criticized a Fox News host Friday after she advised LeBron James and Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble” rather than engaging in political dialogue.

Laura Ingraham, the host of “The Ingraham Angle,” chastised the two NBA stars for questioning President Donald Trump’s leadership.

James, who previously called Trump a “bum” in a tweet, described the current political climate as “hot” in a recent interview on Uninterrupted’s video series “Rolling With the Champion.”

“The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a f*** about the people,” James said. “When I was growing up, there was like three jobs that you looked [up to] for inspiration. It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was best in sports and it was the greatest musician.”

Ingraham said James should leave the political discussions for someone who actually graduated high school. (James joined the NBA out of high school in 2003).

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred million dollars a year to bounce a ball,” Ingraham said. “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.”

Wade came to the defense of his friend and former teammate on Twitter.

“They used to try to hide it,” Wade wrote. “Now the president has given everyone the courage to live their truths.”

Long also defended James on Twitter, writing “have known about LeBron. Just learning about this lady. She sucks.”

“Have known about Lebron. Just learning about this lady. She sucks.”

Long’s brother, Eagles defensive end Chris Long, also chimed in on Twitter. He called Fox News hypocritical and pointed out that the station regularly brings on athletes, musicians and other celebrities to talk about politics.

“What’s the prerequisite for who can talk politics?” Long wrote in a tweet.

In another tweet, Long wrote, “everyone follows an agenda.”

“The conversation pertains to shutting down athletes speaking on politics or social issues based on some lack of merit, yet giving Fabio a platform,” he wrote. “The left recruits all types of nonexperts to weigh in. Keep up.”

After coming under fire, Ingraham released a statement Friday afternoon saying that her comments weren’t racially charged.

“In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘Shut Up & Sing,’ in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand who were trashing then-President George W. Bush,” Ingraham said. “I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics.

“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,” she continued. “There was no racial intent in my remarks — false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism. Additionally, we stated on my show that these comments came from an ESPN podcast, which was not the case — the content was unaffiliated with ESPN.”

Follow me on Twitter: @madkenney