LeBron James on Friday denied Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s criticism of his social activism, saying the AC Milan star’s comments were hypocritical.
Ibrahimovic, whose season coincided with James’ first season at the Lakers for his former team, LA Galaxy, criticized James in an interview with UEFA for Discovery + in Sweden on Thursday, saying it was a “mistake” and “not” “Looking good” when James and other “famous” people get involved in politics.
“He was the same guy who said when he was back in Sweden … because his last name wasn’t a specific last name, he felt like there was racism when he was on the pitch,” said James. “I speak from a very educated mind, so I’m the wrong one for doing my homework.”
A few years ago Ibrahimovic said he was exposed to “covert racism” in his Swedish homeland because his Bosnian roots gave him a surname that doesn’t sound traditionally Swedish.
“I’m not Andersson or Svensson,” Ibrahimovic told Canal + in 2018, referring to what he saw as racist treatment by the media. “If I were, trust me, they would defend me, even if I robbed a bank. They would defend me, I tell you.”
James didn’t let Ibrahimovic’s attitude towards him put him off, explaining why he approaches extrajudicial issues the way he does.
“I would never shut up if something was wrong,” said James after the Lakers’ 102-93 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday night. “I preach about my people and I preach about equality. Social injustice. Racism. Systematic suppression of voters. Things that are going on in our church.
“Because I was a part of my church once and saw the things that were going on and I know what’s going on because I have a group of over 300 kids at my school going through the same thing, and you need a voice. And I am their voice. I am their voice and I am using my platform to continue shedding light on anything that may be going on, not just in my community, but in this country and around the world .
“There is no way I would ever stick to sports just because I understand how this platform is and how powerful my voice is.”
James went on to tell former WNBA player Renee Montgomery, who became a partner in the Atlanta Dream Friday after the league put pressure on former Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who spoke out against WNBA players’ racial justice initiatives last summer to commit to selling their share of the team.
“You can just ask Renee Montgomery if I would have shut up and just dripped [what would have happened]”Said James, later referring to the two-time WNBA champion as a” beautiful black woman “.
James also credited Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints for their commitment to social justice issues.
“I am proud to be part of a generation where our voices are heard and the boys speak from an educated mindset,” said James. “But more importantly, when you speak from your heart, it rings even louder.
“And we have a lot of people who speak from the heart and don’t believe that at some point they had a voice, or now they come in and see that they can have a voice and that their voice really matters. That matters me proud. “
In addition to educating hundreds of children at risk in its hometown, James ‘I Promise School in Akron, Ohio provides affordable housing, a meal program, and professional education for the students’ families.
His organization More Than a Vote was also instrumental in mobilizing more than 40,000 volunteers to work at polling stations in the November general election to prevent voter repression.
“As athletes, we’ve heard this a long time,” said James. “You should [feel] privileged. You should be grateful to be able to dribble a ball or play a soccer ball or take the 100 yard shot or swing a baseball bat and things like that. You shouldn’t be able to talk about anything else, right or wrong, you should just do that. That’s not the case. That is no longer the case. As long as I’m there, it won’t be like that for a long time. “