In the age-old debate of “should we mix politics and sports” it would seem LeBron James has come down very firmly on the “yes” side with the premise for his new show, Shut Up and Dribble. Showtime announced Monday that the new three-part series, which will be executive produced by James along with business partner Maverick Carter and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, will focus on the new role athletes, specifically in the NBA, are taking on in culture and politics.
The show name is a reference to a phrase used by Fox News host Laura Ingraham earlier this year after LeBron and Kevin Durant talked politics in a feature for James’ Uninterrupted network. Ingraham’s comments reignited the online debate over the role athletes should play in politics and if it is appropriate for them to offer their opinions and try to sway public opinion or advocate for certain causes and political ideals.
The timing of Showtime’s series announcement is interesting considering that just this weekend, Donald Trump took to Twitter to slam James’ intelligence after the re-airing of the NBA player’s interview with CNN’s Don Lemon about his incredible new I Promise school. During the interview, James talked about how the president has given racism a modern-day platform and given permission for people to share their racist views publicly. He also responded, when prompted by Lemon, that if he was the only person who could oppose Donald Trump’s re-election, he would run for president. None of that sat well with the incumbent POTUS.
Trump first went after Lemon, calling him “the dumbest man on television” and then proceeded to say that Lemon had “made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” He finished up by apparently weighing in on the eternal debate of who the best NBA player of all time is — LeBron or Michael Jordan.
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
Response was quick with people (including Melania Trump and Michael Jordan himself) coming to James’ defense and Lemon calling attention back to the Trump administration’s detention of immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The conversation soon pivoted from one about athletes weighing in on political debates to one about athletes and other people of colour being silenced and called “dumb” for expressing political dissent. Don Lemon addressed the controversy on his show Monday night by giving a rundown of all the times the American president has used racially-charged dog whistle rhetoric in reference to black leaders speaking out against him.
“President Trump is trying a divide and conquer strategy. … He divides by race and tries to conquer decency by smearing and besmirching the truth and the people who fight to uphold it.” – CNN’s @DonLemon responds to Trump’s personal attacks on him and LeBron James (@KingJames) pic.twitter.com/fhLrPBjc8S
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) August 7, 2018
On a slightly lighter note, some keen observers noted that Donald Trump’s attack on LeBron is likely personally motivated as well. Twitter historians (what would we do without them?) were able to unearth several instances when Trump praised James on Twitter with no response from the athlete. Being ignored all those years must have taken its toll… Or maybe it was LeBron campaigning with Hillary Clinton that really hurt The Donald.
Here are 4 previous Trump tweets talking about how great he thinks LeBron James is. 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/hUcHuY2bDx
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeagueTSL) August 4, 2018
Lebron endorsed Hillary and Trump holds grudges! pic.twitter.com/gR5cDj9KHV
— Si Radke (@goldenradke) August 4, 2018
LeBron’s new show will premiere in October along with the start of the upcoming NBA season.