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LeBron James hits back at 'hypocrite' Ibrahimovic: "I'll never shut up about things that are wrong"

The Los Angeles Lakers small forward responded to Ibrahimovic's comments about sports stars meddling with politics. "People need a voice," he said.

LeBron James, alero de Los Angeles Lakers, antes del partido contra Portland Trail Blazers.
Kirby Lee USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James has replied to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's comments about sports stars getting involved in politics which were directed personally at him. LeBron spoke after Los Angeles Lakers' win over Portland Trail Blazers. “I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school (I Promise School) that are going through the same thing and they need a voice and I am their voice… I will never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about inequality, social injustice, racism, systematic voter suppression, things that go on in our community because I was part of my community at one point and seeing things that are going on,”the Lakers small forward replied.

"here's no way I would ever just stick to sports because I understand this platform and how powerful my voice is. It's funny he said that, because I believe in 2018 he was the same guy who said when he was bad in Sweden, he was talking about the same things, because his last name wasn't a certain last name, he felt like there was racism going on when he was out on the pitch," he continued.

LeBron was referring to an interview which Ibrahimovic gave to Canal+ in January 2018. Here is what Ibra said:

"When I came to Malmö, I was not accepted like the others. Why? Because I was Ibrahimovic. It wasn’t Andersson, it wasn’t Svensson, all those typically Swedish surnames. I was a foreigner. I had an incident in training, they made me a tackle and I butted a teammate, because I was angry. His father was a police officer. He signed a letter to the club asking for him to be sent off and gave that paper to all the players on the team and said: ‘sign this if you agree that Zlatan should be sent off’. I was in the junior team. Can you imagine how I felt when that happened? I felt like I didn’t fit in, like a black sheep. They didn’t accept my attitude, they didn’t accept me as a person, they didn’t make me feel welcome. He was different, he had a different face, he wasn’t blond, he didn’t have white skin like the Swedes. I suffered in the sense that it was not as easy for me as it was for others. I felt like I had to do ten times as much to be seen as everyone else".

James is one of the most politically active players in the NBA. He was highly critical of Donald Trump and his racist overtones, LeBron helped Joe Biden to beat the previous US president in November's elections through the platform More Than a Vote, which informs and helps citizens to vote, especially Afro-Americans.

"Shut up and dribble"

That is a stance which Ibrahimovic doesn't entirely agree with. “What he does is phenomenal, but I don’t like it when people with some kind of ‘status’ talk about politics. Do what you’re good at. Do what you do. I play football because I’m the best at playing football. I don’t do politics. If I had been a politician, I would have dedicated myself to politics. That's the first mistake famous people make when they feel like they’ve arrived. For me it is better to stay away from these topics, and do what you are good at, otherwise you run the risk of leaving a bad impression,” he told Discovery + Sport Sweden last week.

Ibra is not the first to question LeBron's involvement in politics. A couple of years ago, Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham attacked James and Kevin Durant after both criticised Trump's politics: “Shut up and dribble" she spat, adding, "It's always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball".